Social Media vs Social Internet

Brett McKay wrote on the Art of Manliness blog on the difference between Social Media and the Social Internet and the difference between the two. While the former was the keep of billion dollar industries the latter is the creation of individual people. Lately, I have found myself coming to my website to share things rather than keep them in silos maintained by corporations. Data is the new oil, if you haven’t already heard.

Brett’s blog post is a good starting point if you want to begin moving away from Social Media again towards the Social Internet.

Social Media are websites owned by corporations that monetize what you share and become multi-billion dollar corporations richer. Social Internet is the network of sites owned by individuals or even small businesses that put out content and are shared by people like you and me.

If you have browsed the web before 2007 in India, you would have worked your way through Yahoo! search engine, through various email threads on Yahoo! groups and found like minded people sharing web pages using links. When blogs burst on to the scene, you would always keep an eye on the about page and for the “blog roll” on the side of the blog to find new blogs. If you were on the blog roll of someone famous, you would get a lot of web traffic. This is how you organically grew your website.

A screenshot of the website, stryder.com
stryder.com was a website that I visited often for such web links and blog rolls. Image Credit: Pradeep Mohandas

The onset of websites like Facebook and Twitter were the onset of Social Media. These websites earned money by showing us targeted advertisements based on the things we liked, shared and searched on their website. Getting us to stay on their websites for longer (even not having to open web links on a browser) means they can watch user behaviour for a longer time. Data is the new oil. Wired ($) has a personal guide to Personal Data Collection that tells you how your personal data is collected and used. However, they do offer a convenience in use and sharing that Social Internet has never reached.

The Social Internet was built on RSS feeds. Not the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh but Really Simple Syndication. Google Reader made it a breeze to subscribe and read blog posts and even listen to podcasts. But, Google pulled the switch on the project and RSS feeds have been difficult to follow ever since. I currently use Feedly for blog posts, Spotify for podcasts and Thunderbird for feeds and email offline. What I would really love is a mobile version of Thunderbird that I could use to read and write emails, read my blog posts, listen to my podcasts and play videos from the channels I have subscribed to. One app to do it all would mean so many saved apps downloads and my data would be safe with a non-profit like Mozilla Foundation where we would have more control on our own data.

I know reading this sounds like I am scared of Social Media but the fact is that I use it as much as other people but I am slowly beginning to realise that we need control of the data that we create. I believe that awareness that your data is being used by Corporations to make more dollars is a good first step.

How Google Reader’s change changed the way I share online?

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

Somehow, all the changes that Google is making to Gmail, Reader et all to make them all look similar has changed the way I use the internet. That’s a pretty powerful impact for one company to have.

I have now started reading blog posts and email on my mobile phone (a Nokia E63). Earlier, my mobile phone was used primarily for Facebook and Twitter and that too for looking up birthdays or to make status updates.

I have over the past two days set into motion a particularly set routine for doing things online. I use Google Reader on mobile (I really hate Google for killing off competition in the RSS readers market) and then star them if it is something I’d like to share. I then get home, open my laptop and use Google Reader’s Starred Item and share the items on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

I get many things from twitter. These get re-tweeted and shared into my bookmarks on Opera. When I get home these get shared via Google+ and Facebook as well.

I tried using something like delicious as well but that is definitely not something for me. I tried for sometime to look for nice alternatives to Google Reader, then decided to let others look and change how I used my mobile and my internet instead. These were easier than looking for a new alternative, switching stuff to that alternative and then using it. Too many things. Very little time.