Humans have an innate need to communicate. We want to connect and bond and form tribes where we are comfortable. Today, there are more tools than ever to codify the ties that bind and services to let you connect with people you’ve never met. Yet these services pile on features and gain users without truly defining how they should be used.
For each of the popular services there’s at least one clone like Diaspora:Facebook, Bing:Google, Codeplane:GitHub. For each individual function provided by the large services, there’s a single-purpose service; for example, Yelp rivals Google Places and Songkick competes with Facebook Events for concerts. I’m left wondering, where is the line between email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Reader, Google Buzz, GitHub, LinkedIn, Tumblr, individual blogs, etc?
Let’s take an example of wanting to “connect” with your favorite programmer that you don’t personally know. Facebook and LinkedIn are (or arguably should be) out. You can follow your favorite programmer on Twitter, but GitHub seems more appropriate. Now we have Google+ that sits somewhere between Facebook and Twitter, so you could find your favorite there as well. So which do you choose?
Taking another example of a band: MySpace may very well be the best way to connect with them. However, they will probably have Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as a personal site, and quite possibly, a personal blog. Do you follow their blog posts by periodically visiting the site or do you receive updates effortlessly using RSS? Are the posts replicated on Facebook or MySpace? Are the posts teased with tweets?
There are many more examples like brands (I should visit facebook.com/downy instead of their full site???), celebrities, government officials, etc.
So, where is the line between these services? How do you use the many different social services? Does it annoy you when companies “misuse” the services?