19. July 2011 · 5 comments · Categories: blogging

One of the favourite jokes amongst my kids right now is the one about Youtube, Twitter and Facebook all merging to make a new service called YouTwitFace:

And now, just as I was getting used to Twitter (I finally signed up in April), along comes Google+.

But I haven’t yet figured out how to connect up Twitter with my WordPress blog and my Facebook page. Facebook seems like a good way to keep in touch with people, except some of my “friends” keep polluting the news stream with stuff about their fantasy lives on virtual farms and stuff, and the whole thing seems overburdened with unnecessary features. Twitter seems to have a much better signal-to-noise ratio (although maybe that’s because I’m only following a bunch of workaholics, or at least people who keep their personal lives separate).

Now what I really want isn’t another competitor. I want an automated blend of the best aspects of the existing services. I want to combine my facebook newsfeed and my twitter feed, while filtering out the farmville crap. I want to automatically include the RSS feeds from blogs that I follow, but filter out duplicates for those people who also tweet and/or link their blog posts in facebook. I want my blog to create automatic tweets when I post (I’ve now tried several different WordPress plugins for this, and none of them work). And for tweets announcing new blog posts, I want more than Twitter offers – I at least want to know which blog it is. Twitter tends to give me just the title/subject of the post and a cryptic URL. I actually like Facebook’s approach best here, where you get a brief excerpt from the blog post in the feed.

And now if I start using Google+, I have another feed to blend in. Blending the feeds ought to be easy, from a technical point of view. But if it’s easy, why aren’t there simple pushbutton solutions already? Do I really have to write my own scripts for this? Does everyone?

It’s enough to make me sign up for the Slow Science Movement:

We are scientists. We don’t blog. We don’t twitter. We take our time.


  1. It is easy enough to publish wordpress (or anything with an RSS) feed to twitter and facebook. And presumably G+ when they release an API. I use http://dlvr.it and have had no issues, but if that doesn’t work for you, you might check out wordtwit.

    On the larger point I feel the same way. I don’t want to manage three different social networks (plus a bunch of RSS feeds and stuff people share on google reader an a million other services). That is one reason why I was so excited about the diaspora social network (open and distributed and not controlled by a single entity) even though it was a long shot for it to ever get enough users (just a kickstarter project run by three students).

    This article @ O’Reilly Radar makes me hopeful (certainly google is more open than facebook), but one needs only to look at IM networks to see that interoperability between networks might never happen.

  2. I know this isn’t what you’re asking for, but you can block Farmville etc. notifications on your facebook feeds fairly easily. You can also block people that keep posting inane crap but that you may not have the heart to ‘unfriend’.

  3. I left twitface a while back in a bid to help my PhD. Being on the other side of the walled garden really made me realise how odd/scary it is that such large chunks of social life seem to have migrated there. It’s how a lot of my friends stay in touch, now they have families. It’s where the baby photos go etc. It’s not a bad thing, just far, far too centralised, given the obvious importance that our virtual social existence is taking, and will have in the future.

    I can see that it needed someone to set these up, but at some point it needs to become distributed. My profile should be under my control, stored where I want it, and aggregated how others want, given the privileges I allow them. In fifty years our social lives shouldn’t still be merely eyeballs for advertisers, stored in a few central datafarms. We need a proper social internet.

  4. Oh – in case you don’t follow the link, I linked to this story on slashdot: “Now that Facebook has amassed more than 500 million users, a growing number of open source social networking developers are wondering if Facebook’s photo sharing, status updates and other features wouldn’t work better as Internet-wide standardized services…”

  5. @ Dan Olner “My profile should be under my control, stored where I want it, and aggregated how others want, given the privileges I allow them. ”

    Which is a succinct description of the diaspora network. Pity it never went anywhere, because you are exactly right.

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