Leo Laporte has discovered no one’s listening to his social feed.
It seems a technical error prevented his updates from reaching Twitter for the last two weeks yet no one seems to have noticed. This caused him to become a little disillusioned…
It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.
I think he hits the nail on the head but I’d like to offer a corollary to his point which is that anyone who looks at social media logically can plainly see it’s incapable of working.
First there’s little chance that people could even keep up with most of their Social Media contacts.
A survey taken a few years back claimed people spend about 1 hour and 40 minutes of their leisure time per day on the Internet. I remember this survey because it’s time estimate is the highest of any survey I’ve seen on the subject.
Now a tweet is generally around 144 characters and assuming an average word length of 6 characters (5 character word + space) you get about 29 words per tweet.
Compare that to the international average for reading speed which is around 250 words per minute. What that means is if the survey quoted above is correct and if that person spent their entire online time reading twitter they’d be capable of reading about 862 tweets per day.
So someone like Leo Laporte (Who is following 1,347 people on Twitter) would have to spend more hours than the average person spends on the Internet just to keep up.
Of course these are simplifications but the point is a valid one. If you look at the average output of most power user’s social media profile (a.k.a. Twitter + Facebook + Whatever else) I think you’ll find it’s not logically possible for them to keep up with it.
Which brings me to my second point…
In every study that I’ve ever seen the #1 complaint among people in the western world is they don’t have enough free time. That’s been true for decades. So even before all this Social Media popped up people didn’t have a lot of time on their hands.
Which means you have a constriction of resources. People only have so much time available to them so they’ll inevitably have to forgo some of the things they want to do.
That in mind what order of importance do you logically think the following items will fall into…
- Spending actual time with friends and family
- Consuming media that’s designed to be entertaining like TV and Music
- Consuming media that will educate you like reading a book or news item
- Reading the random observations of people in your social media circle
Obviously it’s subjective but I think most would rank Social Media as last among that list.
In the end it comes down to people without enough time trying to keep up with an information source that is generating way too much content. That’s not a system that logically works and Social Media won’t work until someone devises a way to dramatically raise the signal to noise ratio.