Social aggregation and interoperability: Leave Humpty Dumpty in pieces and I'll pick him up as I please

Even though I don't use it myself, I've been recommending Tumblr to everyone I know who is just starting to blog.  It's an easy way to share yourself on the web.

However, it's making quite a mess out of my social data consumer habits.

A year ago, this is how I consumed social data:


When someone blogged, I consumed the feed on Newsgator, occasionally clicking through.  Now and then, I'd get someone that would post a Flickr photo or a daily post of links from, but that wasn't so bad.  The Flickr photos were curated and the posts aggregated all the links of the day in one daily post. 

Other than that, I was socially connected to particular groups of people on each service, which allowed me to customize my own consuming habits.  I could decide who I wanted to be connected to on Twitter, Flickr, etc... and how I wanted their data.  I could follow you on Twitter, but keep you off my phone.  Each service had its own relevent set of controls.  I could completely opt-out from some services entirely...  I don't use Hype Machine at all, for example.

Now, we've got a lot more interoperability among these various services and a new social aggregation/curation tool in Tumblr.  It's made posting and publishing very easy, but consuming a total nightmare.

Here's what my consuming habits look like now:

It's like someone let John Madden lose on my feeds.

So now, for one, I've got two feeds for one person in my Newgator.  Which Fred do I follow?  Social Fred or business Fred?   If I follow both, I've got overlap, because Fred is not Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.. he's the same guy...  and you can't completely pull him apart, so he sometimes posts the same thing in both places. 

On top of that, God forbid your connected to someone on multiple interoperable services.  They can take a picture, upload it to Flickr, which automatically sends it to Flickr, which also passes it on to their blog.  By the time I get back to my desk, I've seen or heard about the same goddamn Flickr photo three or four times across multiple services.  Not only did I get the Twitter of that photo on my phone, but then all your Twitters go into your Tumblr and I get to see the Twitter of the Flickr photo which was also in your blog and in my Flickr contacts page!!  Argh!

And I didn't even add Facebook, where I also saw that photo and the Twitter about the photo in my newsfeed.  Luckily for me, few of my Facebook friends are Newsgator friends.

Wait.. do I have Newgator friends?

Or was that E-mail friends I was thinking of?

My friends are everywhere now... I just want to get some fuckin' work done! 

I've even got them in the sidebar of my browser, where I got to see the Twitter of the photo and the photo itself as well in Flock. 

And must we see every single bookmark as a separate entry in your Tumblr feed?  Do you know what its like to try and consume a Tumblr feed in a mobile RSS reader?   

Everytime I go to Galpert's RSS feed, there's like 86 unread posts in there, and his Tumblr feed isn't the only one.  I've already unsubscribed from some others.  It's not that I don't want your daily minutia...  I want them on a system with controls that make sense.  I want them drifting by me as SMS messages on the phone through Twitter, not clogging up my RSS reader.

I want to be the aggregator.  We keep telling mainstream publishers to microchunk, but now the digerati is putting Humpty Dumpty back together again, and stripping out all the useful levers I used to be able to pull to filter my experience.   There's no way for me to subscribe to Fred without a bunch of overlap, or risk missing out on stuff.  I could leave him on Twitter, because his Twits go to Tumblr, but then I could never direct message him and then I'd also lose the realtime factor.

Thunderdome for feeds sucks....   All feeds enter, one feed leaves, because its never really just one feed, and then your audience loses control over their consumption habits. 

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