My previous article titled Signal to Noise: Twitter, Blogging, and Your Other Crap sparked a few really great comments from folks. It seems many more people are now wrestling with the information overload. There’s now official terms even: “Email Bankruptcy“, “RSS Bankruptcy“, and “Twitter Bankruptcy” (not to mention actual financial bankruptcy because we spend all day learning and not doing). But who cares about official terms when I can barely spend 30 seconds to read the rest of this article because….. *ding* …. I just got another thing in my inbox/reader/twitter.
Yea, spend a little time here for a sec, would you? Trust me, it might be insightful (60% of the time, every time).
Last night, a few super smart people and I got together to hash some of this stuff out. What can we do about it? Can we fix it? Can we recommend changes to the companies and organizations who are creating these things?
We originally wanted to take on the goal of solving this problem for Twitter. It soon became apparent that taking on a perspective of trying to solve the issue for the meta problem (RSS, email, twitter, and other more traditional informational overloading) would be much more valuable. So, we decided it would be best to work on constructing a “best practices guide” to help direct those who are creating the tools by which we overload ourselves.
Today, however, I was talking with one of those brilliant people about this site which was purported by at least 2 out of 4 smart people at the table to be “[bleep]ing brilliant” and “the best site on the internet”. Regardless of what that site is, the interesting conversation that happened today was in direct correlation to the method by which you become a member at said site.
[puts on lawyer hat]
- The most popular (by membership) sites are those which have open registration.
- A way to create buzz about your product is to have an “invite only” registration, but then give everyone enough invitations that there’s scarcity and yet at the same time you can always eventually find an invite.
- The most popular services/sites usually have a low signal to noise ratio when you start “following” more than just your immediate friends or contacts.
- The services/technologies with the lowest signal to noise ratio are those that don’t specify what you can DO with your new tool (blog about anything you want, tweet the same, email the same, etc).
- Everyone wears many hats. This blog, for instance, has topics that range from discussions about God to discussions about PPC advertising. No correlation whatsoever except in my brain.
Now, with all that said, what’s the correlation between a technology or site that is adopted by the world (when I say “the world” I mean “your world”, not “THE world”)?
I’ll give you a hint… no wait, I’ll give you the answer…
Awesome content (the stuff that YOU would deem awesome) is inversely proportionate to the number of uses and themes the host of that content allows.
Put another way, building an insanely awesome signal to noise ratio with your service/site means you will have to limit the potential uses and themes it allows for and then limit the number of people who can actually use it (give one invite per person, not 5, not 10, not unlimited). The aficionados and enthusiasts will use it for exactly that one use, and they will be the ones to brag to their friends (who trust them for their awesomeness in this one area) about how freaking sweet your stuff is.
Now that’s what I want…. someone to brag about how sweet my stuff is.