Social Media: Too Much Noise, Needs Filter

Plurk has has sucked me in and with it has gone a lot of wasted time. It led me to the question: what is all this conversation about? Typically, you select people who have something interesting to add to the conversation or people that you already have a real-world connection with. My experience on Plurk has been a little different in that I have added a lot of contacts who I don’t know. I try to be selective on Twitter but figured that this would be a good experiment to see what it’s like to follow a ton of people.

The result has been a ton of noise and no way to filter. This is not to say that social media is completely broken. There is inherently value in connecting with other people via social media. It fulfills one of our basic needs according to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At a certain point though, socializing in social media follows one of the basic economic laws: the law of diminishing returns.

At a certain point we hit our maximum intake of social media content and we tip from enjoying social media to overload. With messages streaming in through my RSS feed friend recommendations, Facebook messages, Twitter, FriendFeed, blog comments and now Plurk, it rapidly becomes overwhelming and too much to handle.

With all the technology that has been developed to help us become more connected and for some hyper-connected, there are still very few solutions for filtering through the noise. Facebook’s newsfeed is one of the only solutions that I know but unfortunately users have little control of what shows up in their newsfeed. Facebook’s algorithm instead chooses the stories that it thinks is important to us.

Somebody needs to develop technologies that help us scale our connections. Otherwise, we are still subject to Dunbar’s number which suggests that we are limited to the number of individuals with whom we can maintain stable social relationships. That number is somewhere around 150. Do you know of any technologies that help users filter more effectively?