frictionless sharing

Is "frictionless sharing" truly free of friction?

There's been a fair amount of talk in the last week about Facebook's new frictionless sharing experience and I wanted to cover that a bit more than I did in last week's Buzz and Brilliance. In Sunday's post, I summarized the recent flurry of controversy about frictionless sharing. We're about two months in to its use, so it's been enough time for users to adopt and annoy. Today I wanted to explore this issue in more detail. I'm starting with a detailed overview. There have been far more views expressed, but these are the five I happened to find first.

Quick Recap: The Players and Their Views

Molly Wood, CNET - How Facebook is ruining sharing:
"Sharing and recommendation shouldn't be passive. It should be conscious, thoughtful, and amusing--we are tickled by a story, picture, or video and we choose to share it, and if a startling number of Internet users also find that thing amusing, we, together, consciously create a tidal wave of meme that elevates that piece of media to viral status. We choose these gems from the noise. Open Graph will fill our feeds with noise, burying the gems."

Marshall Kirkpatrick, ReadWriteWeb - Why Facebook's Seamless Sharing is Wrong:
"Violation of reasonable user expectations is a big part of the problem. When you click on a link - you expect to be taken to where the link says it's going to take you. There's something about the way that Facebook's Seamless Sharing is implemented that violates a fundamental contract between web publishers and their users. When you see a headline posted as news and you click on it, you expect to be taken to the news story referenced in the headline text - not to a page prompting you to install software in your online social network account."

Richard McManus, ReadWriteWeb - Facebook Hasn't Ruined Sharing, It's Just Re-Defined It:
"If you installed the Washington Post Facebook app and gave it permission to publish what you read, then everything that you read on Washington Post (while logged into Facebook) is announced in your Facebook news feed. For example, "Bob Bobson read [article on Washington Post]." But wait, you may argue, Bob didn't manually share anything. All he did was read it and Facebook shared it on his behalf. But Bob gave Facebook permission to do that, when he installed the Washington Post app. So, effectively, he did choose to "share" that article into his news feed.

So Facebook has re-defined sharing. It has cunningly merged sharing with archiving."

Scott Fulton, ReadWriteWeb - Facebook, "Sharing," and the Freedom to Opt Out:
"Up to now, I haven't felt the need to "share" with the world what I eat, where I walk, what I listen to or read, on what point of the Earth I stand or sit. It's nothing personal; as a journalist, I just seem to have this inner feeling that you don't actually care. One of the skills that comes with journalism is filtering out unimportant information. If I were to write an article about my music listening habits on a day-to-day basis ("On Monday starting at 11:28 a.m. I listened to Joe Bonamassa, followed by Chris Smither, then Diana Krall...") you would not stick around to read the complete list. You would rightly ask, what kind of conceited maniac shares everything short of his own bowel movements with the general public?"

Mathew Ingram, GigaOm - Why Facebook is (mostly) right about sharing:
"For me, what Facebook’s rollout of frictionless sharing highlights more than anything is that we need better filters to cope with the rising tide of information on social networks, and that includes Twitter and Google+. Google’s introduction of “circles” and Facebook’s addition of “smart lists” are a step in the right direction, but they are still too cumbersome, and require a lot of ongoing management (which many people likely just won’t do). Idealab founder Bill Gross introduced a “partial follow” model with his new social network, where you can follow only certain topics that a person posts about, but that also requires a lot of up-front management."

What does it all mean?

This new model is a sign that sharing is shifting to a new dynamic and change always generates discussion, if not controversy. Molly Wood is famous for her resistance to new trends. Even the ones she claims to like aren't immune to heavy criticism once she sees the final implementation. It doesn't make me dismiss her views - they're valid and valuable. Facebook knew that there would be resistance to its frictionless sharing model. I have thus far refused to install any of the Open Graph apps because I know how annoyed I am by the very things Molly brings up in her article. I click on links expecting to see content, not an invitation to an app. When I can't see the content, I lose interest in it. That is a huge friction-filled barrier.

Richard McManus - as confusing as his take on this may be (Is he for this or against it? Oh, I see. He's just uncomfortable with it personally but doesn't like categorizing it as "ruining" or "wrong".) - makes essentially the same point that Molly does: sharing should be intentional, but that doesn't mean it isn't frictionless. Because, let's be honest, clicking a "like" button on a Web page really doesn't create friction, does it?

Ultimately, I think we have to accept this new mode of sharing. It isn't going away. It's too valuable for too many people, i.e., Facebook and the companies utilizing it. Which leaves users where? Well, you either opt-out, as Scott Fulton suggests - to keep your stream valuable and relevant, or you push for better filters. Mathew Ingram is right about that, but it still doesn't give us the happy medium that a lot of users will want. Copy/paste, as suggested by Molly, is clunky and time consuming. Filters are a bit better, but there's another option:

I'd like to see Open Graph apps give users the option to share seamlessly OR share at will - at the click of a button. I'd be far more inclined to use these apps if I could pick and choose what people see. Not because I have something to hide, but because I share items that I think are valuable. It's a recommendation or endorsement of the content. Frictionless sharing leaves a big question-mark in my audience's minds as to what my purpose is in reading that content. Is she endorsing it? Is she accidentally clicking on it? Does she actually think that's valuable? Right now, anything posted to my Facebook profile or pages is endorsed by me. I want to keep it that way, so Open Graph isn't something I'm ready to use just yet.

Just a couple of final notes: Molly says there's always Google+. We'll see. I wouldn't be making any bets that this won't ever happen over there. One last take on this issue that is interesting is Robert Scoble's. He thinks users are going to dictate a "freaky line" that they won't cross. The power of the community to influence networks is well-documented. And there is no shortage of opinions about how this should play out.

What are your thoughts? Have you installed any Open Graph apps or do you avoid them?

Image source: stock.xchng

Buzz and Brilliance - Week of September 26

Last week included a veritable avalanche of news about Facebook last week, so I thought this week things would have calmed down a bit. The actual news stopped, but speculation about oversharing and privacy concerns, the effect on businesses and marketing as well as other networks was rampant. Far and away the biggest concern I've seen over Facebook's changes is privacy and oversharing. Changes haven't come yet to pages, other than not having to "like" a page to comment/like posts on it. There will be changes eventually, so it's important to think about how the changes will impact your Facebook page now.

As for individuals, timeline will feel like an invasion of your privacy - it isn't. I've been using it for almost a week now. The switch to the new timeline has prompted many to threaten leaving and, like Mashable, I think that's mostly just talk and no action. But keep in mind that every piece of information was shared with your audience before timeline and the way it was shared hasn't changed. Access to it has changed only in that it's easier to see everything. Ultimately, it's important to remember that each person using any tool on the Web is responsible for protecting their own privacy. Learn how Facebook is implementing frictionless sharing and take steps to avoid sharing what you don't want others to see. And if you want to see comprehensive coverage of privacy concerns, be sure to look at ReadWriteWeb's Facebook coverage.

Have you ever used SlideShare? It's a really great tool for sharing presentations, but it's greatest limitation has been Flash and the effect that has on mobile users. But that's not a problem anymore! They're overhauling the tool with HTML5 and making it much more mobile-friendly. As an iPhone user, I'm excited about HTML5 and what it means for my mobile experience. If you're not familiar with HTML5, that's okay. You'll hear more and more about it as more sites adopt its use to make sites more accessible on all platforms - desktop and mobile. It's about delivering content everywhere in the same way and HTML5 can help if it ever becomes a standard.

Delicious was recently saved and the site got a radical overhaul. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but reports about the changes aren't terribly positive. Have you looked yet? Let me know what you think!

A few other snippets of news:

Google+ users can now share circles with followers. I have yet to use this function and I don't know if I will. But for power users, who have key industry people in their circles it could be a great way to put others in touch with those people...maybe. I'm a little on the fence about the value of this since it has potential to open all users up to more spam which is rampant on all social media sites lately.

In other Google news, I'm excited to share that they've finally added real-time updates to the Web version (my iPhone/iPad app has had real-time availability all along), but this is huge news for Webmasters who want to see the robust stats that Analytics provide in real-time.

Quora users are a devoted bunch and now they can use the Q&A tool wherever they are with the new Quora iPhone app. Reviews at this time are mixed, but that's not any big surprise. First versions of apps are rarely packed with the functions users really want/need. I'm sure updates will solve many of the issues it currently has. The important thing is that this is a step in the right direction for them.

There is so much more - I think everyone was trying to get noticed after Facebook overshadowed everything last week. But I don't want this to go too long, so these are the highlights I've picked for this week. Are there any other news tidbits you heard that were interesting?
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