Why I Dropped Scoble and Seceded from the Hunt for Newer Shinier Things

I have met Robert Scoble and I like him. He’s a good guy, and somewhere I have a photo and video of him with an AmigoFish sticker on his tripod, so that right there puts him close to my heart. I’ve followed him on and off for years, and am currently subscribed to his Scobleizer blog. However, I’m dropping him. The thing that sent me over the edge was an inoccuous enough post but something that is emblematic of my problem not just with his blog but with the whole Silicon Valley mindset.

In it, he says that he gets too much email and that is ineffective for getting PR releases to him. He suggests that what you should do know is to leave him a message on his Facebook wall. Dear god and/or Bob. In the time I’ve followed Scoble, I must have seen something like this a dozen times from him. Don’t email, Twitter me. Don’t Twitter, Pwnce. Jaiku me. Leave a wall message, send an SMS, just call me, email me, don’t email me, don’t call me. Enough already. I’m not even trying to get in contact with him, and I find this constant migration from platform to platform to be a load of shit that just wearies me. I felt the same way when I dropped TechCrunch, well over a year ago. I got so tired of hearing about another slightly different way of doing what we were already doing and why that tiny difference was worth dropping everything and moving over.

I officially renounce the search for the newer and shinier.

Will this cost me cool points? Undoubtedly so, and I have few enough of those to spare. However, getting out of the ever escalating rat-race of keeping up with whatever the hot site/service/Web 2.0 gimcrack of the moment is carries a lot of benefit to me. It’s the opposite of an opportunity cost, it’s an opportunity profit – the gain I get from not spending all my time redoing my efforts in a new system. I suppose I could try to take whatever small notoriety I got from podcasting and then try to go get a following in Second Life, then try to get everyone to stampede over to my MySpace page, and then use it to suggest that everyone subscribe to my Twitter feed, then move to Pwnce because Twitter is too slow, then get those people to friend me on Facebook. Or, I could do none of that and instead do, oh, ANY FUCKING THING ELSE which would ultimately be more fun and less wasted busy work.

People invite me to services all the time. They want to connect to me on LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook. I appreciate that anyone cares and I get a little warmth from the sentiment. I’m not joining anything that I’m not already a part of though. People ask me why I’m not on FaceBook since that’s the cool, hot thing. That’s precisely why I am not. I’m not interested in coolness or hotness. I am interested in friends, true friends that matter to me and that miss me when they don’t see me for a long time. I’m uninterested in virtual friends that are trying to out-compete everyone else by being the first person on the SNS du jour to have 1.7 kajillion connections. I’m uninterested in duplicating work from siloed system to siloed system, to joining any network that encourages many shallow links instead of a few deep ones. I joined LinkedIn years ago, and I’m thinking about getting out of it or possibly just rejecting any future requests out of hand. It’s a bunch of busy work that has never done one thing for me and I wish I had never started.

Basta. Life is short and true friends that will go to the mat for you are scarce. The energy spent in chasing some sort of glorious future from service to service is friction in my life, not any sort of addition. If I had that kind of time, I’d be at the beach more often and reading more books or cuddling up on the couch with my wife and my dog for more of my day. Sometimes these services really add to our lives and allow us to build communities that we can’t get in our every day corporal lives. Other times, like now, they are just more bullshit in a world overflowing with bullshit. I don’t need them, I don’t want them and the burden on anyone inviting me to any service is to prove to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that this will improve my life and make me happier. If you can’t do that, I’m out. I’ve had plenty of shiny for one lifetime, now I’m looking for the old and worn that will put a smile on my face.

Update: I forgot to cite this post from Steve Rubel on similar issues which helped drive my thinking. In comments, CJ says “I feel sorry for you man. Not wanting to join something great just because it’s new and popular. . . . is sad.” and questions why I want to avoid FaceBook precisely because it is new and hot. It’s because those correlate strongly with ephemeral. When it isn’t new and isn’t hot but still useful, that’s when you know it is going to last. I’m not making any more investments of my time in the SNS du jour and then seeing that one slowly get abandoned. Tribe.net, anyone?

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

42 thoughts on “Why I Dropped Scoble and Seceded from the Hunt for Newer Shinier Things”

  1. Paul says:

    Perhaps one of the worst side effects of this rapid mass migration to the new and shiny is that none of these technologies are given a chance to mature and improve. So none of them are particularly slick experiences and some go through identity crisis when the hot new thing comes along. My favorite example has to be MySpace.

    Yes, I use it and enjoy the social value. But my gawd that has to be the biggest, stinkiest shitpile of code to ever run on a server. Every new “feature” is just a hack into the festering ColdFusion code. They recently introduced a presence feature that literally just changes the ‘is in your extended network’ text box on the profile. The problem is they got too huge too fast to be able to refactor into a solid foundation.

    Eventually, the sheeple will grow tired of making a yet another new profile and re-connecting. Why don’t these services provide migration tools? ‘Cause it’s too hard. LinkedIn does the best job I’ve seen using address book contacts. Some smart service will be prepared with a social web desktop that they can easily throw “apps” on to. Honestly, I think Pownce has this potential if they can get it deployed to the public while the irons are hot.

  2. JP Reardon says:

    This immediately reminded me of an article about people’s preferred contact method(s) that appeared a few days ago. As more ways of making contact are introduced, it becomes more difficult to make the right choice. It is of little help when the individual you are trying to contact keeps changing their preference. What are you supposed to do, read the person’s blog archives to see how they currently prefer to be contacted? The proliferation of social networking sites begs another question. Since useful applications are usually the product of someone trying to solve a problem, what problem are these sites attempting to solve?

  3. Dom Barnes says:

    I use a few SNS’s: Twitter, Jaiku, and just started on Pownce. I’m not a heavy user, nor do I use them as a main contact source for my friends. To be honest, not a lot of my friends are as heavy on the internet-o-sphere as I am, so I’m not likely to see them around.
    Even while knowing them, I’ve seen them migrate from MySpace to Facebook. And to be honest, I don’t care about either of those.
    Personally, I don’t care about having the most friends or followers. I care about those few people who might care what I’m doing or saying. Its a bit like blogging. I know I only get a few regular visitors (don’t honestly know who!) but its nice to know that something I write attracts regular viewers. I like twitter cos I can just throw my thoughts up there, and its shorter than a blog post. And use Jaiku as no more than a central line for all my stuff. I’ve added my blog feeds, Flickr feed, gReader shared items, Twitter feeds, and my band blog, so even if its just me, I can look and see what’s been going on, it leaves a nice timeline of my life recently, and I can share that with family (since they’re far away).
    I agree with the Facebook/Myspace/Scoble point. It is just another network which will eventually move on to something else, we’re just waiting for the idea to fruit.
    Email is really the only consistent form of contact. Its easy to migrate, hundreds of devices support it (thousands of phones, PC’s, PDA’s, etc), everyone knows how to use it, there are hundreds of services to choose from and find the right one, its hard to sneeze without beng offered 5 free email addresses.
    If you want to contact me, email me. I’ll be sure to get it.

  4. chris says:

    Well said man. It does become a tiresome pile of empty bullshit after a while. How much is too much? It’s exhausting.

  5. PJ Cabrera says:

    I’m glad to see people following my example and dropping Scoble. I’ve been ahead of the curve for years! 😉

  6. Eric Rice says:

    Phone. E-mail if necessary. But phone. Not Skype. If you happen to be on those networks, it’s a good chance those messages go to e-mail, where they can be whitelisted.

    Oh yeah, did I say phone?

    It’s the worst kinda of A.D.D. heh

  7. julien says:

    actually, you didn’t lose cool points, you gained some.

  8. CJ Millisock says:

    I feel sorry for you man. Not wanting to join something great just because it’s new and popular. . . . is sad.

    I understand the idea that things are moving too fast and it’s not worth your time and effort to keep up, but you lost me at this part:
    “People ask me why I’m not on FaceBook since that’s the cool, hot thing. That’s precisely why I am not.”

  9. I have to agree with you on a lot of your points. It does become incredibly aggrevating when everyone decides they are going to move over to the next thing. I often find myself waiting until the very last of my friends has moved on before I go too (remember when everyone stopped using ICQ for AIM?). I also agree that these places don’t get a chance to see their full potential because everyone leaves and moves on. If people would devote themselves to one service, it could actually grow into something great. I think you’re correct to avoid something just because it is popular. It is often better to wait for things to settle down to see how good the service actually is. Either that, or to have been in on it before it got popular.
    I don’t agree with your tribe.net assessment, though. Tribe did get a lot of fanfare, but pretty much just when it lauched, much like Friendster. Facebook is different, though. It has taken over three years for Facebook to actually gain this mass appeal. They already had a pretty good thing going before they started gaining all this additional publicity. I think that this puts them ahead something like tribe. Just my opinion, though.

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  11. Herschel says:

    Well… I here ya. I keep Scoble on the RSS feed list so I can keep track of all the crap. Let him do all the work so I don’t spend all my time.

    Like you, I’ve learned not to get into all his newer, shiny technologies.

    But he does have some benefits.

  12. Rod Trent says:

    I’m with you. Scoble helped fuel the iPhone hype to utter oblivion. Lots of folks were duped because Scoble said it was OK to be duped. I sense a new ADD poster child on the horizon.

  13. Mark Bean says:

    Scoble “IS” media. He said so himself so it must be true.

  14. Zeromus says:

    Welp looks like he got butt-hurt about it and had to try and be clever. I, too, am about to drop him because I’m tired of posts about how “So I was twittering on MY IPHONE and thinking about MY FACEBOOK and did you think about how amazing it is? I’ll tell you more if you add me on MY FACEBOOK”.

  15. ThinkingBrain says:

    You know…Scoble has to find someone to stroke that ego of his, and eventually, that ego is going to get so big that no amount of stroking is ever going to be enough. I am glad that someone has said enough. I admit I read. Sad that I thought that the man was halfway intelligent, but really he is just blinded by his own delusions of granduer. May he come back to reality soon.

  16. BillEBob says:

    Very well put. I think you nailed the feelings of many of us out here.

  17. mike dunn says:

    lol – ok knew this would be a fun one to watch, especially robert’s reaction (and that of his posse)…

    doesn’t seem that heated though, mostly subtle snark that i’m sure you’ll both laugh about next time you find yourselves f2f…

    as for your post, right on of course for you, i unfortunately “have” to join absolutely everything that’s new and shiny as part of my job, so i get to see all the pro and con aspects of them…

    the ones that stick, that i actually want to use because they add real value for me are the straight forward ones – gmail & google reader are the prominent ones – twitter is fun as a non-linear group chat sort of experience – facebook is an example of a platform for the uber multi-tasking next gen (my teens) – both twitter and facebook i could do w/out easily but not gmail or greader…

    keep fighting the good fight dave 😉

  18. I can undestand why you don’t want to be entangled in the web2.0 stuff. Are you referring only to the social network stuff or are you banishing web2.0 as a whole?

  19. Mark Hughes says:

    My condolences on your brain-death. When a person stops exploring new things, stops expanding into new areas, becomes frightened of new tech, they become a corpse, even if the body continues to move and feed itself for years to come.

    When you turn your web site off, because it’s too high-tech and shiny, leave us a final message in the RSS feed so we know to unsubscribe, okay?

  20. Eric says:

    Yes I am sure the 99.9999% of the worldpopulation that does not follow every web 2.0 trend is totally brain dead O_o.

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  23. RBL says:

    Until these siloed systems offer an industry-standard means of importing/exporting your data, it doesn’t make sense to use more than one. With all the BS talk about Web 2.0, you would think the industry thinkers would have proposed and been working on an XML standard for social networking data exchange. People should be able to leap from service to service just by migrating their data, just as we can do with bookmarks, OPML, XLS, CSV, TXT, DOC, HTML, dBase, etc.

  24. Very sensible approach.

    The bottom line — anything new (web 2.0, AJAX, full duplex speaker phones, HD TV, Hoola Hoops)should be subjected to a simple test:

    “does it materially and substantially change the playing field and add value to the user?”

    If Yes — then it deserves adoption. If No – then it does not.


    This way stuff that deserves adoption gets adopted and marginal stuff does not.

    Thank for Reading


  25. John says:

    Great post! It is tiring to have to switch to new platforms. After having gone through the trouble of making a decent MySpace page, I refuse to even consider doing the same with Facebook (first-mover advantage points!).

    Unfortunately, for a company such as ours (free, encrypted file-sharing within a private network http://www.gigatribe.com ), such reasoning is an obstacle for us. People always say, “oh but product X already does most of that”; thing is, that may be true, but the advantages of our product over the others must be worth it when you consider that 500,000 people have downloaded and used our product! (I admit, I’m the type of guy who never switched to those fancy new 3D games like Doom/Quake, I much prefer games such as Frogger/Pacman!)

  26. It seems to me that this ways-of-being-contacted overload hasn’t yet happened to most people I know in the UK. Perhaps it’s because I’m still quite young…

    Most professionals I know have three phone lines (office, home, mobile) and at least one, but often two, email addresses.

    But somehow, we manage to keep all business on business phones/email, all personal calls on home phones/email…

    Maybe it’s about being careful who you give what number to…

  27. If you’re ever in Helsinki I’ll buy you a beer. I’ve been wanting to write about this ever since my inbox started flooding with requests to join 4+ new online communities.

    Good show for writing it and good show for being linked to by Robert Scoble!

  28. Nate Mow says:

    Bravo. I’m reminded of the recent talk-of-the-town Refresh-[city] event here in DC; at the end of “Web 2.0 startup weekend”, all of the talents involved put together a site enabling you to “help you meet the neighbor across the hall”. Get some stones, go knock on the door, and introduce yourself. Thanks for spitting out the Kool-Aid Dave.

  29. Mark Forman says:

    Funny at first I thought you were a little bit overboard on this on, but have since come to realize you had much more exposure than I with Scoble and I had not reached toxic proportions or allergic reaction in my spleen yet.

    Shiny Web 2.0 the marketing guy dressed like a nerd or a dude! Wretches again. I’m so channeling Howard Beale right now!

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