Changes To My Online Presence

This week has been an interesting week for me in terms of what I am doing online with my various social networks.

  • Reducing the number of websites/social networks that I have
  • Moving away from Facebook and more to FriendFeed
  • Loving and Using heavily

So what exactly am I doing with each of these? I have through this week steadily been reducing the number of social networks that I have tied myself into either because I no longer use them or really never used them. This is two-fold, first to consolidate my online presence and second to optimize my online presence. I am first trying to get rid of extra social networks that aren’t adding any value to me. There is simply no point to having a profile at a place that I never visit. It’s a waste for the company and for me. This goes into the second goal of optimizing my online presence. What I mean by this is that I am trying to make my online presence more effective and easier to maintain. It was a real pain when I switched from a hosted blog to my own website recently trying to go around and find all the places my name was associated with the old website and switching it around to the new address. Several years ago I switched from a Hotmail e-mail account to my current Gmail e-mail account and it took over 6 months before I had all of my then sites switched over. It’s not easy changing data, it isn’t just updating my friends and family with the changes. Nowadays I have about ten or so places I would have to change information on if I just started dating and wanted my online profiles to reflect that.

This was simply becoming too much work especially for sites that I was seeing limited or no value out of keeping up to date. Towards that end I have and will be continuing to delete any accounts that I have on websites that aren’t adding value to me or to my online presence.

The next big thing that I did this week was moving away from Facebook and towards FriendFeed. Robert Scoble also has started to do this as he mentioned on both his blog and via Twitter. Unlike Scoble I am not falling away from Facebook, but then he has a long time ago hit the cap of 5,000 Facebook friends and uses Facebook in a vastly different manner than I do. Scoble uses it to keep up with his audience, I use it to keep in touch with all my close and distant physical friends. Facebook allows me to for instance to not have to worry if someone changed their e-mail address or phone number. I can just look it up there and presto I have the correct information and more. This is a more accurate use of Facebook I believe than what I was using Facebook for awhile.

I used to use Facebook as a way to aggregate my online life into one place and Facebook isn’t really designed with that in mind. Instead Facebook is more like my personal contact page online that includes all of my friends and such that a blog or OpenID site doesn’t and won’t for at least some time. I don’t see Facebook dying away anytime soon nor do I think that Facebook is starting to lose it’s luster. I genuinely believe Facebook will be around for quite some time and will be an important player in the social web.

However I still wanted a way to aggregate my online life into someplace that if people wanted to they could see everything that I was doing online. FriendFeed has been providing that opportunity and I’m really liking it. FriendFeed basically takes all of your usernames to the different sites that you have profiles at, such as Flickr, YouTube, Amazon, Digg,, your personal Blog, pretty much anything gets thrown into there. So everytime you favorite a video on YouTube, add something to your Amazon wishlist, add a photo to Flickr, it gets listed in your timeline. The front page of FriendFeed is modeled off the News Feed from Facebook. Then FriendFeed adds some nice little extras, such as commenting or liking an item that someone posts. Also if the item is a twitter post, you can directly reply on FriendFeed to Twitter. Talk about integration, it’s awesome.

The last thing that I have been doing is using basically lets me post a status update to both Facebook, Pownce, and Twitter all at once. Nothing complicated about it, just nice and easy. The major reason I switched to using is that when I had Twitter importing my status updates to Facebook, there would be times when I didn’t always want something to cross from Twitter into Facebook. lets me post that which I find important to multiple sites at once and yet at the same time I can just as easily post something at a single site.

Lessons from this week in surfing the internet:

  1. Integrating Multiple Sites/Social Networks is hard
  2. Integrating Multiple Sites/Social Networks is important
  3. Maintaining a unified online presence works wonders for my Google Ranking
  4. Maintaining a unified online presence makes it easier to present myself as someone qualified in the technology industry and following current trends
  5. Sometimes just because a site can do something doesn’t mean it should do something
  6. Maintaining a healthy relationships with people who don’t live online is a tricky balance between providing too much information for them and too little information for those who do live online and desire more information
  7. Many sites make the sign up easy but the deletion is darn near impossible
  8. It really bites trying to change one or two things on all the multiple web sites that I know basically live on

I would love to hear what other people see as more important, having a lots of places where you can be found (joining every social network on the planet even if you never return) or just several really big sites (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.).

Justin Yost is a full-time Software Engineer and a part time educator. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Justin relishes programming and learning more about anything and everything. When not working, Justin occasionally gives talks at the local PHP Meetup. In his free time, Justin enjoys backpacking and reading science fiction books.

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