Goodbye chronological. Hello realtime. Sad face.
In the good old days of the web I was able to subscribe to any site and receive updates via my feed reader for every post that the site made in the order that they were published.Even though RSS feeds typically only held a finite number of items in them the feed reader I used would typically cache all unread items so that I could always catch up later.
In short; I never missed a post.
In some ways, those days are going away and now I’m at the mercy of the realtime web and an algorithm. And so far I don’t think I like it.
On Twitter, from what I can tell, I have access to about 7 days worth of tweets in their official clients; web, mobile, and apps on the iPhone and iPad. Tweetbot, a third-party Twitter client for iPhone, only pulls in the latest 50 messages in my Timeline and also on Lists that I’ve created. If I haven’t checked Twitter via Tweetbot in more than 50 tweets I simply miss those tweets.
Some people do use Twitter just to see, as Twitter puts it, “What’s happening now”. And, of course, that is extremely valuable. The pulse of the planet. But I use Twitter to keep up with family, friends, a few interesting people, a couple of companies, and yes – even a few celebrities. But I want to see every tweet. Not just the most recent few.
On Facebook the News Feed is run by some algorithm (which I shall now refer to as “secret sauce”). This secret sauce is both pretty bad and pretty nebulous. It is pretty bad because I’m routinely missing posts that I probably would have cared about. Case in point, my brother asked me the other day if I had seen a video he put on Facebook. “Nope, never saw it.”, I replied. I have my brother marked as a family member on Facebook. Surely Facebook’s secret sauce would deem a post by him as something I would like to show up in my News Feed? Apparently it didn’t.It is pretty nebulous because apart from some controls on the News Feed about the types of items I would rather not see, there really aren’t many controls for this secret sauce recipe thingy.
I realize I’m probably in the minority but I prefer to have access to every single update from the blogs that I subscribe to, Twitter accounts that I follow, or people on Facebook that I friend. I wouldn’t have decided to make those connections if I didn’t care to see them all. I’m going to miss the good old days.