Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Active Sharing vs. Passive Sharing

Came home and was reading about Supernova Conference down in the Valley. Something resonated with me was a talk by Joe Kraus (a Google PM). Although he was talking about Google's Open Social, I was more interested in his framing of Active Sharing vs. Passive Sharing (the thinking revolves around something our group is working, but I like the Active/Passive term more).

The difference is kind of obvious. Active sharing, you are using email or other direct communication to 'share' some information with someone. You consciously decide the receivers. During this process you may miss people, may not be sure if they are interested or simply don't consider the information that important (people can become arrogant or spammers for sharing certain things, right?) In the presentation, Joe calls it high social activation energy. I think he misses the point that this is not only social, but that is because I believe he sees things through the Open Social lens.

The passive sharing is when I don't necessary send people direct communication, but relay on he connections to the people I have to get notified for me. There is a certain contract with this form of communication (that is represented most prominently in the form of feeds) that the recipient can access the information if they choose to and if they find it interesting. From there, they can even navigate and discover more information I left open to other people.

F/B personifies this example as it enables, through the social connections, the ability to notify my friends and let them filter out what they want. However, F/B lacks a compelling active sharing mechanism, or at least one as solid as email. They have direct messaging and even chat now, but they are not tightly integrated into each other as well as the feed. Before F/B, people relied on RSS as the feed. Blogs, flickr and youtube allowed to passively sharing news, photos and video while attracting eye balls to a site. But RSS is not as friendly as F/B connections which I'm sure make uploading pics in flickrs less popular these days (F/B statistics here and here). Nonetheless, because of their demographics and branding, they appeal more for the "social" interactions, and not the IW one, which is where I believe we should focus on.

The most critical discussion though remains how to move users from one model to the other, without alienating them of their current habits. I have some ideas (that may not work), but was more interested in yours.

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