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 Chime.in, 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?
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