So with the convergence of personal and professional profiles on the Internet email usage seems to be heating up. Michael brought up a good point about how the social networks should free themselves from email (specifically notifications). Coupling this with a conversation I had with a friend of mine last night the question was raised – how to filter social content? The Internet in all its glory has broken down the social distance that culture and communities used to individualize themselves. Even applications now are more stream based vs document based as Bryce points out:
Really, what I mostly do today is stream management. And I suspect this is true for the vast majority of people. I don’t deal with writing documents, but with changes to documents. I put comments onto things. I slap patches onto things. I tweak the states of things. Once in a rare while I may author a completely new thingee, but even there I usually end up working with it as a stream of changes that I build up over time (and usually in collaboration with a few other people who stream changes to me).
It is this paradigm shift that helped coin the new phrase of “bacn”. Sites like Lifehacker have become successful with their lists of ways to combat bacn. But even with all this outrage against bacn is it a necessarily evil or another stream of communication that is in the infancy of evolving?
Email you receive that isn’t spam, and isn’t personal mail. It’s the middle class of email. It is notifications of a new post to your Facebook wall or a new follower on Twitter. It is the Google alert for your name and the newsletter from your favorite company.
The first question I ask every social media expert I encounter is: “How do you filter?” Generally, I am asking how does one filter the content that is being requested – but I think it has grown to mean more of how to you handle information overload. I know some folks who have to respond to every little interuption to file away that notice or alert that comes through. But this leads to interruption overload. Thankfully there are plenty of solutions to help with information overload – the largest being “Protective Organization”.
Be protective of your time – Time is a valuable resource. A watch list of items that tend to be time wasters: meetings, phone calls, junk mail/email, social messaging, television (yes this should be in the watch list) etc. All these items have the potential of taking up valuable time. It all boils down to time and priorities – if you have that goal – reach it but be aware of the pitfalls of spending time on things that do not help you reach it.
So what is the best way to cure bacn? (bad pun alert) Well any good messaging system worth its salt… will have ways to diminish the amount of alerts to the really importantones. And when that doesn’t work what ever system you use to receive this alerts should have a rock solid filtering feature. Filtering is the life blood of a successful bacn routine. Since most of bacn are sent via some logic in the machine triggering the message to send it only makes sense to use the machine to filter these messages into managible silos for digestion.
In closing the Common Sense PR blog has a great piece addressing just this very angle from a content pusher’s point of view – make your information worth paying attention to, or be a spammer. While it has become a big fad in the self help social media gurus to announce they are cutting back on their number of feeds etc – I think it helps expose a weakness to feel the urgency of the message. It is a good thing to make sure the list of sources you listen to is very specific to your need or you will feel information fatigue – but you won’t be overwhelmed unless you bring it on yourself. It is all about the priorities – loose sight and risk becoming swamped in bacn.