Wherever you turn these days web companies are adding social media features. In some cases it is nothing more than rebranding an existing service with a Twitter enhanced name. In other case it is adding a box load of social media crap in an effort to drag in new users. Either way we are being left with the impression that everything we use on the web must be socialized in some fashion in order to succeed.
Even our standby giants of the web are feeling the early adopter driven flush of excitement as they borrow (or steal depending on your point of view) ideas from each other. Add Twitter sign-ons, add lifestream flows of endless crap, add Facebook circle jerk connections. Add anything that will make you look cutting edge and everything social media.
The thing is maybe not everyone is going to want this socialization of services to be shoved down their throats the way it is. Already people are rebelling against Google’s recent addition of a Friendfeed feature (which was also borrowed/stolen by Facebook) of being able to ‘like’ some-one’s shared items in Google Reader.
Are our ego’s that shallow that we need to know how many people liked something we decided to share? Does it really make any difference as to whether we will share items any more or any less?
Of course though the big names in the tech blogosphere are just loving it and commending Google for keeping up with the bleeding edge even though MG Siegler would like to see a little more blood feature enhanced ‘likes’
Personally, what I think what the feature needs is more options. There definitely should be one to turn it off, but there should also be something that lets you sort items in any feed by the number of likes it has. While some people hate the idea of only reading what someone else likes, for popular feeds, it’s actually a somewhat useful filter in determining the most interesting articles. (But again, only in feeds that are popular enough to have many likes to begin with.)
I still come back to who the fuck really cares?
It’s an old problem though. All these bleeding edge tech bloggers spend so much time in the thin atmosphere of early adopterhood that they forget that not everyone is going to see the same – if any – value in the addition of social media tools to everything on the web. In some cases this rush to push social media on everyone at every turn could have a negative effect.
I am not suggesting there isn’t a place for social media tools but like everything else in life too much of something can have a detrimental effect. Sometimes thinking about the larger group of web users when it comes to adding all these social media bells and whistles. Just because you can be cutting edge doesn’t mean that you should; or that your users want you to be.
As Kara Swisher wrote today concerning the soon to be launched redesign of Yahoo
And while some might complain it is not cutting edge enough, it seem just the right amount of rejiggering and open feel for the mass of users its serves.
Being cutting edge and sucking up to the early adopters is no guarantee for success, just as adding social media bells and whistles may not always be the right solution.