Today, I’m following fewer people on Twitter than I was a month ago, even after major events like SXSW and iMedia Breakthrough.
I’m friends with fewer people on Facebook, even though I’ve made many more connections.
My blog, cluttered as it may be, has far fewer links along the right-hand side than it did earlier this year, and the links that are there are far more likely to be current.
It’s all with the goal of trying to do more with less and focus on the objectives and ties that matter.
Facebook is perhaps my favorite case in point, as I’ve come around on the redesign in a big way. I couldn’t stand what they did at first, and I still in many ways would prefer to have the old layout back, where its algorithm picked which stories to highlight in my News Feed (the central update list on the homepage for registered users). It was far easier to make sense of what’s happening on the site, especially with over 1,000 “friends” there, when Facebook prioritized the updates that were mutually of interest to a number of my connections. Now, it’s a fire hose, spewing out everything.
Yet Facebook has one feature I absolutely love, and I wish Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, and others would copy: the “hide” button. There are many people I want to be friends with on Facebook to stay in touch, see what events they’re going to, send birthday wishes, and that sort of thing. I’m fine giving these people access to my full profile, and once in awhile when I’m curious what they’re up to, I might want to view theirs. Yet I don’t need to hear from them on a daily basis. And if they post a few updates a day to the site, if not more, I really don’t need to be that close.
Enter the Hide button. In one click, they disappear from the News Feed, and their updates are gone for good. I can still see all the hidden posts, but now the hidden posts almost always outnumber the posts in my News Feed (especially because hidden posts are often from people who post excessively). I can alternatively hide updates from applications if I love the person but hate the app. That led to my recent Facebook update:
just took the Which Facebook Quiz Are You? quiz and found that he's the quiz that just LOOOOOOVES seeing his news feed overrun with Which ___ Are You quiz updates.
On Facebook, I’m feeling a greater sense of control. Hopefully that will get even easier on Twitter and other services too. On Twitter, there are people who I follow because I’m friends with them, or I want to be able to direct message them, but I don’t need all their updates. Increasingly, I’m choosing to break my ties with them, which creates other problems.
The Hide button, though, is elegant, efficient, and solves that information overload problem in the most user-friendly way I’ve seen – one that won’t harm any relationships in the process.
For further reading, see Jeremy Epstein's take, calling the hide button the "Facebook's line item veto."