Commentary

Pondering Rockmelt -- Or, How Much Sharing Is Too Much?

Let's all just stop for a minute and realize something: Everyone doesn't want to share everything. 

Maybe you're saying right now, "Hey, lady, I already knew that." But stop for a minute, and ask yourself how many social media products and companies are built on the premise that everyone does want to share everything. If you've ever read any of my posts about Foursquare, you know this is an issue I circle back to, a lot.  

The reason I am covering the topic again this week is Rockmelt, the so-called Facebook browser that lets you merrily traipse across the Internet with your Facebook friends, among others, via a panel on the browser's left side that makes Facebook, and other social platforms, a part of the browsing experience. Sure, I signed up for a beta invitation and will dutifully download the software and play with it once I'm allowed, but that's only for business. On a personal level, I just don't want to go there.  

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Part of my attitude, I suppose, has to do with the thoughts that have been rattling around my head recently -- many of which have to do with finding ways to curtail my addictions to Twitter and Facebook, rather than finding ways to amplify them. I like to think I'm a pretty productive sort -- but I bet I'm not the only one in the Social Media Insider universe who wonders how much more I could get done if Tweetdeck didn't keep beeping, or if I stopped Facebook from emailing me every time someone comments on one of my status updates, or if people quit emailing me links to YouTube videos. It's a daily struggle just to fight off the digital distractions.

So, a browser that makes it even easier for me to see what my Facebook friends are up to? On that one, I'll proceed with extreme caution.

But it's not just that. As I have mused concerning Foursquare, people don't necessarily want to share as much as is technologically possible. Even as Facebook continues its march toward world domination, it doesn't mean that there aren't limits to sharing. Facebook's huge membership base exploits the universality of people wanting to share things, but individual preferences for how much to share are something entirely different. Don't assume that just because people eat food, then all people like to eat all kinds of food.

In other words, the industry should constantly be mindful of how much sharing people may find is too much, before getting all hot and bothered about new ways to share that may exist just because they are technologically possible. Tomorrow, will I wake up and find the online community lauding some new iPhone app that can sense a user's mood -- and broadcast it? Is someone developing a pre-set browser that tells the world what its user is wearing each morning? God, I hope not, but there are people out there who would say, "Cool!" and download it, while many of us sat by scratching our heads.  

Don't get me wrong, the Social Media Insider loves innovation. But I do get concerned when people fall in love with technological innovation, without asking the core question of who would use it.  

That said, there is a market for Rockmelt. As its founders pointed out in this video from Robert Scoble, it also improves on other dominant surfing behaviors, like search. And, yes, if you believe their statement that 500 million people have changed browsers in the last three years, then within that number there are sure to be uber-sharers, who will love Rockmelt.

But even if sharing is a huge behavior, that doesn't mean Rockmelt is for everyone. And, as you, dear Social Media Insider readers, well know, we all sit in between the possibilities of technology and what consumers actually do with it in the marketplace -- and don't you forget it.

8 comments about "Pondering Rockmelt -- Or, How Much Sharing Is Too Much?".
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  1. Mike Lee from Cactus, November 10, 2010 at 5:56 p.m.

    While I think you are correct that we should be mindful of how much sharing people find to be too much, I think your article missed the point of RockMelt. Perhaps it is because you penned it before actually getting to play with the browser.

    I agree that the incessant trills from Tweetdeck and having to constantly switch back and forth between Facebook and what I am working on can be distracting. But that is exactly what makes RockMelt so great. In my experience, the browser isn't about sharing more, rather making it easier to navigate the social sphere.

    I have been using it for only a day, but it has already become my default browser of choice. By aggregating my entire social graph into a single browser, RockMelt actually enables me to be more productive, not less. Everything I am interested in is displayed clearly but simply. It is well thought out and well executed.

    I suppose the old saying is appropriate here- don't knock it until you try it.

  2. Callie O farrell from The Really Simple Partnership, November 10, 2010 at 7:06 p.m.

    Just suppose I don't do FBook?

    I don't do branded, I don't do auto follow......

    Therefore I don't do that great concept that naively limited its market and future.

  3. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, November 10, 2010 at 8:34 p.m.

    My bro in law was a bit miffed as my go to tech guy when I asked him about it. He said Flock has has a browser that does all this stuff for the last two years. I don't think we want to share everything with everybody because we don't have the time to sift through all the data. As it is we only see 5% of the Live Feeds on twitter and facebook due the massive clutter of posts.

  4. Rob Gould from Independent Consultant, November 11, 2010 at 8:55 a.m.

    It does get scary when I talk with people who don't realize that everything they are sharing on social media they are sharing with everyone.

    Regardless of even real privacy restrictions everything that is shared via social media or on the Internet anywhere runs the very real possibility of being shared with the world. And why would the average person who's livelihood is not at least partially dependent on "fully" understanding social media take the time to truly explore the possibilities of how the personal information they are sharing, that they are assured is private or at least restricted in its distribution, could be shared anywhere?

    The answer is, they likely wouldn't and they don't. And I believe they should. It is frightening when I see it done without full awareness. Who knows who could be RocketMelting you really? This concept (of non-existent social media/Internet privacy, not RocketMelting) is something that should be taught in schools, as it is really a very simple concept.

    Although I have chosen to share very personal parts of my life on social media channels I do it with the full knowledge that when I make the decision to "push the button" (even if it is the friendly "like" button) I am making the decision to potentially share that part of my life, and myself, with everyone, everywhere, forever. Specifically, anyone who is interested in my not-very-exciting personal life.

    I also share information with the knowledge that I may change my mind about my decision at some time in the future - in five minute or five years - and that is something that I will have to live with.

    RocketMelt? I'm already easily distracted so I'll let all of you try it first and let me know if it is something that I should get excited about. I'm already amazed on a daily basis by the tools readily available to assist me in finding both wanted and unwanted information about friends and strangers.

    Don't call me an early adopter on this one. Yet.

  5. Jon-Mikel Bailey from Wood Street, Inc., November 11, 2010 at 10:42 a.m.

    I downloaded my beta version of Rockmelt Monday and I have mixed feelings about it. For me, social is not everything when it comes to browsing. There are lots of other plug-ins not related to social media that I use quite a bit so I don't see Rockmelt replacing Firefox for me. And I'm not sure I want to use 2 browsers.

  6. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., November 11, 2010 at 6:03 p.m.

    I watched the video that RockMelt provided about their experience. It was shown through the eyes of a RockMelt developer who had just joined the company after a cross country move. He wasn't sad that he moved because he could chat with all his friends in his browser, he found an apartment, got a roomate, met a cute girl, shared some pictures and info about the bar below his new abobde and educated everybody on turtle racing (a sport featured at the bar). Yup, I would've fired this goldbricking piece of internet trash on day one after he spent the entire morning farting around with personal business instead of company business. There was not ONE mention of how his actions or features of the browser could be used for anything other than trivial "socil media" time wasting. Just what the world needs - more digital crack. Wasn't porn enough? Sheesh.

  7. Juli Schatz from Image Grille, November 12, 2010 at 3:21 p.m.

    A simple example of what Catharine's saying was my de-friending my husband's cousin. I have nothing against Jennifer and still see her at family gatherings, but I was getting so many updates from her Petville and Farmville activities that I had to tell her, "no more."

    I have a feeling that's part of the reason unemployment remains high....!

  8. Dan Christ, November 14, 2010 at 9:37 p.m.

    I've been using RockMelt for three days, and am starting to get the hang of limiting the distractions. I accept that I may, at times, have focus issues regarding the flow of information from social media, and actively seek to better manage how I digest all the pertinent stuff and leave the jetsam behind.

    Using the browser at work this week will be the true test. If I can't tune in only when I want to, instead of when the alerts beckon me, it'll be back to Firefox.

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