Destination, or workflow component?

In a recent post, Facebook Or Twitter - Or Facebook And Twitter , Brian Kelly says:

…in some circle such use of Facebook is being derided with comments such as “It’s a closed garden“, “Its popularity is on the wane” or “Twitter is a better development environment” being made. I have to say that I foind that such comments tend to miss the point.“.

Brian tackles the “popularity on the wane” comment with some web statistics, but leaves the “closed garden” and “better development environment” arguments. I’m not at all sure what the argument is about development environments, but I am very interested in the walled garden aspect - I wrote about this in July last year, and I have seen nothing since to change my mind. I’m not sure I’m deriding Facebook, but I do maintain that it is a walled garden. I still keep an account in Facebook out of interest but I rarely access it.

I attended a session on digital libraries earlier this week at the JISC conference, at which Lorcan Dempsey spoke about how where once the user built their workflow around the library, now the library must build services which fit into the user’s workflow. Facebook, it seems to me, is a destination. I go there sometimes, almost always because someone has uploaded some photos of an event I have attended. I go there for occasional amusement. According to the figures, Facebook is very successful at being a destination. But is it embedded in anyone’s workflow I wonder? Twitter is very much part of my workflow - it is the single most used application on my iPhone.

Twitter is an eminently ‘ composable’ service by design, while Facebook is an attractive (for many) destination. Twitter participates in any number of mashups, and has, given rise to an extraordinary range of user-interfaces. It fits into people’s workflows because they can choose how to access it. I use a combination of the mobile web interface and SMS: others use these and a variety of rich desktop interfaces.

So I think my response is still: use Twitter and Facebook, or both, or neither. But I believe that Twitter is more interesting, really because it’s composable nature will allow it to fit all kinds of workflows.

Your mileage may vary :-)



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