New Year is the traditional time for sorting things out and taking stock.
I’ve been trying to decide how much or how little to do for Nordic Design Review on social media. There are Facebook and Twitter pages for the site but I’m not really happy with either and have only kept them going because a friend who has made a career in social media from it’s very earliest stages has told me that I need to have a presence on social sites to draw traffic through to this blog.
At a basic level, I really don’t like Facebook … the layout and graphics seem cluttered and, particularly at the working end, clunky with the style of a late 90s government form and all those options for preferences and security now seem bloated and frankly ambiguous.
Twitter is cleaner and the end public page much lighter and crisper but in some ways I have more concerns about Twitter than Facebook. Twitter does seem better for keeping up with events in a more general way but it is frustrating that if you miss a few days it then seems impossible to catch up and swiping desperately through several days you realise how much stuff posted is actually completely irrelevant … it seems to be geared up to talking and not to listening.
There is another niggling doubt about Twitter that I only realised recently when I came across a photo I took at Malmö station last year. On the lower platform, where the Copenhagen train comes in, there are wide central platforms and on the outer walls, beyond each outer track along each side, there is a very clever light and image show. There appears to be a series of rectangular windows with rounded corners so it looks like the view you get from the inside of the carriage of an inter-city train. The windows stay fixed in position but the images of various landscapes scroll along so you watch a house or a distinct person standing in the landscape appear at one end and gradually move along and past in real time and these are not static images but people and traffic are moving. Some of the sequences are Swedish landscapes but there are also jungles and middle-eastern desert scenes. Mesmerising but disconcerting because you feel that you are sitting on a train moving past the world outside but actually you are standing still on a platform waiting to get on a train and the world moves by without you. As with Twitter, you can’t say ‘hang on … that looks interesting … stop … I want to go back and have a closer look.’ In a dystopian nightmare do we actually only need Google Glass and Twitter on automatic scroll and we wouldn’t have to miss anything or, rather, miss any Twitter post or, come to that, move or think at all?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really not a Luddite: I love new technology but that doesn’t mean I have to like everything. Perhaps part of the problem is that I work all the time from an Apple Pro with a large high-quality screen and using my iPhone or iPad seems like a real step back in terms of image and graphic quality so I have to confess that this site is, without doubt, designed for the real estate of a lap top or desk screen.
Twitter does not seem to be that popular or that widely used in Denmark. Many people I know working in design and crafts prefer to use Instagram. I do like the quality of the images with Instagram but again I’m slightly worried that to swipe-and-like through a never-ending procession of images is not the right way to see and think about let alone choose design objects. It’s OK as an index but buying furniture or whatever should really be a hands-on experience.
I don’t like Pinterest. I’ve been told it’s used by designers for a useful way to pull together ideas for inspiration or for creating a look book but it seems too like the style and quality of the free ads that used to be tucked into local newspapers … or maybe I’m just looking at the wrong sites.
I’ve just started to explore the possibilities of Flip It … it looks good and seems potentially like a good way to index and link to posts for this site and pull in links to interesting material on other sites but I'm not sure how many people use it and I'm not finding it easy to get it to look right.
All these social media sites demand a lot of work to keep them up to date and I'm not convinced about the gains. The temptation is to just drop all social media and put all that time I can claw back to focus on this web site … maybe it’s time to see if it’s big enough and ugly enough to survive on it’s own.