Twitter. On it? Using it? Following as many people as you can in the hopes that they reciprocate the follow? While twitter has had it’s ups and downs regarding a love/hate relationship from users, frequent outages, and an ongoing battle of ‘just what the heck is this thing for?’ it seems as though there’s still a strong interest in ‘connecting’ with others in the know.
I myself often enjoy flipping twhirl on during the day and occasionally catching some useful news or information via twits from other users. That is at least until I get the ‘limit exceeded, paused 5 minutes’ message from twhirl. That 5 minutes, incidentally, often turns out to be more along the lines of 4-5 hours, in which case, I’ll switch over to the browser version, if I’m so inclined. I’ve been able to gather some great news via twitter and even gathered opinions on VMware vs. Parallels straight from the VMware twitter, at times it becomes a bit overwhelming with the ‘ping, ping, ping’ coming like rapid fire and popping up in the bottom right corner of my screen.
Herein, we have the problem with social activity aggregators, information overload. How do you separate the really vital information from the casual contact that has a few funny things to say, but doesn’t really add value to the workday? Fake Following.
Friendfeed, another spawn of Twitter, has added just such a feature. In essence what this means is that you can add someone as a contact, or someone you’d like to ‘follow’, but you simply turn off his or her updates. As previously stated, in twitter, the whole process of, ‘I follow you, you follow me’ seems to be the defacto unwritten rule. If you’re trying to get your messages out to a large audience, you’re going to try to follow as many people as possible, with the intent that they do they same. What friendfeed is setting out to accomplish with ‘fake following’ is to let you ‘follow’ others without hearing all the noise.
Think of it more like sitting in a crowded café. While there are a number of conversations going on, you want everyone to hear what you have to say, when you want to say it – but – when you want to get down to brass tacks, you only want to hear what Scoble, Arrington, and Calacanis have to say. ‘Fake Follow’ allows you to tell a small digital white lie, and have thousands of your fans think that you’re listening to them, but in fact, you’re not.
Is this bad? It depends on how you look at it. While fake following is a bit deceptive, what might be rather interesting is a list whereby you could sort your twitter, friendfeed, and other social activity aggregators into categories. An ‘At work’, ‘At home’, ‘On the road’, etc type listing whereby you could choose which conversations you want to hear.