Brian Solis and Jeremiah Owyang (and others) have been talking about the onset and onslaught of micromedia or media snacking and it's got me thinking.
Is it new?
Did we snack before, but using different tools? I'd say no, not really. I read more, watched 60 minute documentaries and had long phone calls. Then I read full blog posts (to the end) and wrote full blog posts (more than 100 words - see below...). Now I read RSS headlines, get Skype messages, browse Tweets, check Facebook statuses and I still appear to be breathing and living happily.
Is it healthy?
Depends how much you eat, what you eat and why you are snacking? Are you following 1,000 people on twitter and refreshing it every minute? You're probably not getting much worthwhile done. Are you happly suffering from FOMO - fear of missing out? Are you checking your Facebook status over morning coffee, scanning tweets as they fly up, and checking RSS headlines a few times a day? OK, that's probably OK, you're not obsessing. I still believe that good things take focus and considered effort, so constant switching is not helpful, but I'm sure that will be considered old fashioned in ten years.
Is it reliable and do we care?
No, you don't care. I don't write a tweet or a status change or other snacky bite with the expectation that everyone I know will see it. So this is interesting. It's not just the eating, but it's the quick preparation of these tasty snacks that's key - not the eater, but the chef. Why are we doing them if we don't know if anyone is going to see them or not? We have so many snacks to eat, why are we tossing them out at the rate of knots? Is it a momentum thing? A network of every spirallying snack creation, snack consumption, snack creation, snack consumtion - up and up and up?
If it's not reliable, why is it so helpful, if not required?
My theory on this one I'll call "The Dart and the Nets". A bit of information happens - the dart. And it starts flying. It gets public. It starts flying around to different people. Some people get hit by it, some people duck it and some people catch it and throw it further. So I put up a couple of nets. A few hours a day I invest checking my nets to see if it's caught any darts. RSS feeds, Tweets, Facebook, Tangler (:-) ). I check my nets nope, nothing.
Did I miss it?
Nope, not yet, because this is a story about nets, not just one net and not just my own nets. I have a social net that is automatically aware of what I like (Facebook social filtering) and also manually aware of what I like (my friends know I'm a geek, who loves basketball, discussion forums and having fun.) So they have a chance to catch the dart for me.
How do the social nets catch crucial snacks?
Automatically - 1 of my friends on Facebook RSVP's for an event. Facebook says "Mick won't care about that, it's just one." Two of my friends on Facebook who I sometimes attend events with are now attending. "OK, it's time to tell Mick.
Manually - Chris Saad (who takes in terabyte-snacks constantly) sees a headline on some website somewhere in the world. "Hmmm, Mick would be interested in this - I'll send him a link."
Is that all the coverage you have?
Nope, we also have haphazardly-over-coverage nets. These are where snacking comes in. Jeremiah missed the whole earthquake thing today as it happened. He missed the news(es) and missed the 100 tweets. But it eventually caught up with him later. Overcoverage usually works better than this. It's where Chris Saad doesn't directly tell me about something, but he blogs it, and Brian Caldwell tweets it and Cameron Reilly Facebooks it - eventually it's going to get caught in one of my nets.
So, in reality, I only cover about 40% of what I need to cover. But through auto, manual and haphazard nets, we cover off another 40%. The final 20% you survive without knowing.
What's the point of all this?
Snack on. Snack away. But remember why you're snacking. It's fun, it's useful, but it's not life - on or offline.
That's my first brain dump on micromedia and snacking. More to come.