Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why I Hate Social Software

Update: Andy Stewart hooked me up with an awesome solution.

I need to create a ticket in GitHub Issues, so I go to GitHub. Before I can search on my repos, I see the first item in my news feed - the feature I hate more than any other - and I discover that Rick Bradley has done something idiotic and funny, so I go to Twitter to tell everybody about it, where I discover endless replies to a tweet I made an hour ago. After several minutes on Twitter - the time-waster I fall victim to more than any other - I log out, try to remember what I was doing, and go to GitHub again.

Sorry to all my programmer peeps, if it hurts to hear that I hate seeing your latest activity on GitHub - but it's true. I absolutely fucking hate it. I especially hate following really prolific programmers on GitHub. You log in and it's just the same picture of one dude, repeated a thousand times, over and over, with little notes about what they did. I admire these prolific, extremely productive people, but you'd have to be one extraordinarily obsessive fanboy to want to see the same picture of the same dude repeated that many times.

Yes, Trotter Cashion is awesome. No, I don't need to see his face this many times. If I wanted to, I'd marry him, and I'd have a tough time doing it, because he already has a wife, and she's better-looking than I am.

So I just went to GitHub and unfollowed everybody I was following. I had a similar problem with e-mail, so much so that I created hacks and even a little startup to get around it. I also created Minimal GitHub Dashboard, a nice little mini-site with the GitHub API, so I could use GitHub without seeing the news feed.

In marketing, virtually nothing beats word of mouth, and the best way to generate word of mouth is to make your app a platform for communication. However, it's important to differentiate between features which exist for marketing purposes, in order to get every user to promote the app, and features which exist for purposes of usefulness. When it comes to time management, virtually every social feature which serves the purposes of marketing operates as a mixed blessing, at the absolute most generous, when it comes to purposes of usefulness.

Those of us prone to ADD and excessive socializing really benefit from apps which narrow our focus. For instance, I would gladly pay good money to turn the GitHub dashboard off, in fact, and if you consider that time is money, that's basically what I did. Unfortunately, Minimal GitHub Dashboard still lacks any authorization/authentication features, and I won't have time to add them today. If you want to boost your productivity, and share that productivity boost with me, and have some fun hacking on a Node.js app in the process, check out the source - it's on GitHub. Pull requests are very welcome.