Thursday, August 9, 2018

Social Media Reading

Reading online and reading a book are fundamentally different experiences. The words may be from the same language and even on the same topic, but the user experience is different in both purpose and result.

A social media feed is built to be a stream of content with no end—keep users on the site as long as possible. The underlying purpose of reading on social media is driven by fear of missing out. It's a strategy tilted more in favor of the company than the reader.

A physical book, on the other hand, has a clearly-defined end. There's no fear I'll miss what it has to say as I know I will reach everything eventually if I keep reading.

Sure, of the “many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12), but at least different books are separate entities. The online world sometimes calls that kind of idea seams, but social media specifically sets out to be as seamless and friction-free as possible.

When Yahoo! decided to focus on “digital daily habits,” its move to an “endless” news feed on its front page was a move in the opposite direction of daily. That was a move toward now.

I know I'm not the only one who has a love-hate relationship with the news (no matter what it's covering). It's nice to stay informed; I don't want to spend all my time doing that.

I have a plan to overcome this in the future, but how much I stay informed until I can implement that plan is an open question.

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