140 characters as a filter

by a  data-cke-saved-href= photo by Vik Nanda I am back from "vacation." It involved some nice time in Maine, during which our 22-month-old learned many words, including the fave of the week, "LOON! LOOOOOOOOOON!!!" The main feature, however, was another sick-parent emergency, and our beloved greyhound has become gravely ill, too. What do you do when you need a vacation from your vacation? You come back to work! So everyone's talking about FriendFeed these days. It's a site that consolidates the feeds from your friends' activities across multiple platforms (blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc.). Then, you can discuss all that incoming content with your friends right there on FriendFeed. I signed it up and joined the nptech room. There's cool stuff going on, but I haven't engaged there yet. There's a lot going on. (Beth Kanter's quick take on filtering FriendFeed that shouldn't make your head hurt.) Part of the problem for me with FriendFeed is that refreshing a page in my browser in order to keep up with the changing feeds just doesn't work for me. I have come to adore Twitter, even though everyone's always complaining because it goes down a lot (visit the fail whale here). Rather than refreshing Twitter in my browser, I use Twitter best via Twhirl, an application that runs on your desktop like an instant messenger window. Well I found out today that you can follow FriendFeed on Twhirl (open up "Settings," click on "Open Accounts," choose FriendFeed from the menu, and you are off...). So I gave it a try. I've got two Twhirl windows open, one with Twitter and one with FriendFeed (it helps that I have two monitors). I am suddenly able to follow conversations on FriendFeed, and I have a feeling it will become more valuable to me in the days to come. But one thing I just Tweeted about with Michaela Hackner is this: Yowch! FriendFeed shows you that we're all dealing with a lot of incoming content! For my brain, too much. She and I both commented on the fact that the 140 charachter limit of a Twitter message acts as a kind of filter. You have to say what you're going to say; you can't babble. There's no space for being long-winded (unlike this unlimited space in my blog here, for example). Some people do manage to Tweet about nothing over and over, and I just stop following those people. This is one reason I've come to love and prefer Twitter (even though it's down right now. Sigh.). Michaela also mentioned that Gen Y-ers are wired more this way, because there's only so much you can do with texting. I've heard people lament the loss of person-to-person conversation, the art of writing, etc. But people said that about the telephone, email and instant messaging. I still see good writing and have wonderful "real life" conversations. So I am not convinced. Everyone can contribute to the new web. That means more content than ever. For me, the key to learning as much as I can in Web 2.0 is to not let it all in. How do you filter the web? What works best for you? Do you feel like you're missing a ton of good content? If so, does that bother you?