Tuning my social network: a snow day project

Is there anything better than a snow day or two at home, surrounded by one's family and friends, buried under a couple feet of snow, to put one in mind of all those projects you've been really meaning to get to?  The ones you've been putting off? I didn't think so.

So to mix up a metaphor or three, I've been tuning my social network.  I've been pruning the shrub of my weak connections. I've been toiling in the garden of my online personality. I've been re-imagineering the enterprise.

So after the shoveling was done and my family's attention had wandered on to other projects of their own, these are a few of the projects that I took care of.

1. I dug into my subscription list on Google Reader.

I had too many folders and way too many subscriptions.  Since I primarily zip through my RSS feeds either in Google Reader prime on my laptop or in Reeder on iOS devices, I had gotten into the habit of subscribing to new feeds and throwing them ALL into a folder I'd created called Daily Reads. Nothing was NOT going into Daily Reads. 

Sure, I had a couple of other quasi-organized folders for other blogs that, at the time I set up the folders, I wasn't reading daily. But isn't the point of reading feeds that you're doing this or not at all? Feeds are a river of information – you either keep up with them or you let the news pass by. You don't put certain feeds up on a shelf to be read later.

So if a feed wasn't one I was interested in reading daily, or as often as I care to check in with them, I unsubscribed.

When I was done cleaning the old folders, and moving some feeds into Daily Reads, I deleted the Daily Reads folder and moved everything out of it into the general population.

2. I took a hard look at who I follow on Twitter.

I won't say that I've cut out a huge number of tweeters that I used to pay attention to, but I've got my People I Follow:People Following Me ratio down to 2:5, which seems pretty manageable and healthy.  On the other hand, I know that still following nearly 400 people on Twitter makes for another raging river of information, and I will continue to pay attention to that river only as I'm able.

Most of my Twitterstream is book-related and comprised almost entirely of actual book-loving humans – authors, book bloggers, publishing folks, friends and fellow travelers.  This means that I can dip into my Twitter timeline at any time and always come back having learned or read something interesting. 

I un-followed app developers, publishers who tweet only in press-release-ese, individuals who tweet and re-tweet like spambots, and the occasional twitterer who actually "follows" thousands of people. 

3. I renewed my interest in Tumblr and fine-tuned the connections.

Before I even started writing at my3books, I had a Tumblelog and used it as a sort of dry-run for what shenanigans I might get up to here.  I still have that account – it's primarily been used as a repository for my own tweets, the occasional link to some cool image, and a way to follow a few other people of interest to me who use Tumblr.

Laura asked me the other day about how she might start blogging about books & libraries.  I showed her my original Tumblr page and suggested that it might be a good low-impact way for her to try out something with a little more substance and flexibility and outward-facing accessibility than merely posting updates to her Facebook profile.

It got me thinking, again, about how Facebook is a walled garden (admittedly, the largest walled garden ever) and so part of my social network tuning this week has been to retrain my brain to click the just-as-easy-to-use "post to Tumblr" bookmarklet instead of the "post to Facebook" bookmarklet.

Tumblr took care of the next part for me, which is building in a tool to auto-post to your Facebook profile when you put something up on your Tumblr page. So now I'm posting more to the outward-facing world and my Facebook friends will also be clued in to new links.

Another handy integration is that I can post photos directly from Instagram to Tumblr.

And I found a cool new theme.  Love it.

4. Pieces of my social network that I'm essentially lopping off: Foursquare, Yelp, and other location-based games.  Linked In.

I'll still utilize Yelp for finding great places to eat, but (despite the essential egotism of being a social media consumer & creator) I just don't believe anyone (besides potential data-mining advertisers) cares or wants to know where I am on that level of detail.  So out they go.

Linked In - I don't know what to do with you! I'm not cutting you off completely, but how many people am I connected to on Linked In that I am not already connected to elsewhere? I have a feeling you're going to remain the weedy, not-very-sunny corner of my garden that I don't want to spend the time fixing up.

5. Still to come: building a sidebar portal on my3books for my Tumblr posts.

I'd like to make it so that my3books is the one place that connects everything. I've built in a portal to pull in my feed from GoodReads, displaying the books that I've been reading lately. Nothing else really automates that quite as well. I've got a Twitter widget on the my3books home page, too, pulling in my recent tweets. I need to set up a similar feed from Tumblr next.

My goal is to have my social network well-connected and working smoothly, but not spattering repetitive posts and data all over the place. A person's social graph should just work, right?

Once you've decided to be one of those people who share things online, you shouldn't have to be thinking about each individual data point and which places it requires posting or checking in. For me, if it's book-related, or big-picture related, or written with more than a third of my attention span, I think, I'll post it directly to my3books. If it's a quick click, or written off the cuff, it goes to Tumblr.  If it's a comment or related to current news, it goes to Twitter.

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A final note.

This is the first long-ish post I've written since I read Farhad Manjoo's piece on Slate about the Great Single Space / Double Space controversy last month, and can I say, it's really messed with my head? How did I end up a habitual double-spacer? I'm trying to wean myself off the double-spaces, but it's hard, man, it's really hard. 

And do I need to go back and revise all the posts I've put up here on my3books before I saw the light? Maybe another snow day.