This was part of my News Feed the other day:
Useless and boring — the worst combination.
No offense to anyone in my stream. It’s not you I’m uninterested in; it’s the data Facebook is choosing to show me.
Because that’s what these stories are: data. It’s all great information for Facebook to collect and store, but it’s not content that should qualify as ‘news.’ I can’t wait until social media data is organized in a way that is more useful to us all. The future is not feeds.
The actions we take and information we share online have the potential to be tremendously useful. Of course I want to know what restaurants my friends have been to, but I don’t need Facebook to show me every time a friend checks in somewhere across the country. When I start researching travel or when I arrive in another city, that’s when I want to see that checkin.
I’d love to be able to see all my friends’ activity related to movies in one place, so that when I’m deciding what to see this weekend, I can view which new releases my friends have liked, any posts or comments about those movies and any relevant checkins from Get Glue or other services.
I want to be able to visit a band’s Facebook page and not only see which of my friends like that band, but what they’ve said about the band, which songs they’ve shared and whether they’ve been to a concert.
All of this information is on Facebook’s servers, and it’s inevitably going to be organized this way. Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook users are sharing twice as much each year. With that sort of exponential growth, it’s obvious the News Feed will have to evolve.
The solution is not to generate and view lists of different people. Companies have to organize feeds around content. While Google+ is focused on Circles and Twitter’s biggest changes involve adding multimedia, Facebook seems to be actually pursuing ways to sort posts.
There’s the new ‘X of your friends posted about Y’ feature and the fact that Facebook has quietly begun categorizing some shared links. Notice the favicons:
Compared to the traditional symbol for links:
This bodes well for a future that moves away from the unfiltered feed and toward highly relevant search results and push notifications.
In the meantime, I’ll be using the Better Facebook plugin to sift out some of the noise.