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Flava of Love: Social Aggregator flavors.me Betas About the Bush

February 11th, 2010 by Liesl received Comments Off on Flava of Love: Social Aggregator flavors.me Betas About the Bush

The Slacker Sitebuilder

flavors.me : definitely not sponsored by the letter "u"

Fans of squares

I noticed dimitryz was having some fun playing around with a new beta product called flavors.me, so I had to jump in and see what it was all about. They provide a simple tool to “create an elegant website using personal content from around the internet.” I’m always intrigued by a product that sells itself on the notion of solving our fragmentation problems, so I tried it out and it made me think about the promise of consolidation in an increasingly micro-happy www.

Advantages

Over time, many of us have accumulated multiple social media accounts and while there have been free integration options for the average user to consolidate all this personal activity in one spot, they tended to be either:

  • Part of a more intense site-building platform (WordPress/Drupal plug-ins, out-of-the-box solutions like Weebly, etc.) so if you don’t have the patience or energy to start or maintain a site: no consolidation for you!

Flavors.me advantage: Love Facebook? Can’t stop tweeting? Post lots of Flickr pics? Sell stuff on Etsy? Would friends keeping up with you get a serious case of Web 2.0 Whiplash? You’re all over the place, but you never set up Home (or you did, but you abandoned it for lack of time/motivation). Starting a blog or a site of your own is work (so is finding the right publishing option because there are so many out there it’s overwhelming). Pulling multiple microblogging and publishing tools together with flavours.me acts as a simple personal website that puts the micro stuff front and centre to tie everything in without tying you down to higher maintenance content updates. So if you’d rather tweet or update a status than create a page or a post, flavors.me may be home sweet home.

  • Part of a single social media tool (e.g. integrating your Twitter feed or blog on Facebook), useful to a certain extent, but the ultimate goal of the provider is to get people spending more time using their service (Facebook), not to promote your multiple channels on a level playing field. So if you want to do it properly, you’re cross-feeding as much as you can on all these individual channels. And, again, if you don’t have a website or blog of your own, these efforts still don’t achieve the cohesion you may want from a “Home.”

Flavors.me advantage: As an aggregator, flavors.me is out to promote consolidating all these other publishing/networking tools, so it’s not directly in competition with them for those functions (at least, not at this stage of their business plan). While Facebook and Twitter keep trying to find ways to get “stickier,” both for publishing and gathering information, flavors.me is more in competition with free sitebuilding tools, weighing in as the slacker’s sitebuilder: slap up a bio and choose your design options/services and forget about it… Instant, low maintenance dynamically-updated Home Page!

SEOtastic

And, of course there’s the added SEO value of yet another online page with your name in the page title, linking to all your online soap boxes, large and small, in one crawltastic sweet spot. Have multiple professional blogs? Multiple Twitter accounts? Artistic ventures? Flavors.me is a simple and effective way to help search engines connect those dots and produce a simple, interactive business card, with nary a post or widget in sight.

A Little ‘Me’s Time

For me, right now I would only add two services to my flavors.me account (which hardly seems worth it, right?) for my blog and my LinkedIn profile. That’s because I wouldn’t feed my Facebook statuses and pictures onto a publicly accessible page and I don’t want to give my theatre site the same prominence as my professional stuff. And while I concede I will eventually start a professional Twitter account, I’m still knee-deep in my content plan for this blog, so I’m not there yet. While the concept of a single lifestream may appeal in theory, in practice, users may use the service to consolidate various streams into separate hubs. The heaviest users of social media are creating streams for various projects, hobbies, professional services, alter egos, etc. So if I’m into hockey and publish a host of puck-in-net-related content across platforms, and my day job is as a graphic designer, so I publish about design stuff across multiple channels, too, I may want one flavors.me page for the hockey.me and one for the designer.me, and so on, ad nauseum for all the different ‘me’s for which I have time. Flavors.me offers a quick and easy way to brand your different projects, brands, businesses, artistic stuff, etc by reeling in all the related feeds in one spot. So flavors.me‘s consolidation pitch of lifestreaming is good, but if you consolidate multiple streams, you’ll still end up with multiple “Homes” for your multiple online personalities.

What of this lifestreaming business, then?

Stream Trap

Stream Trap

The Singularity

Seeing as much of this technology promises to make us feel connected, not just with others, but collating the different elements of our own lives and personalities, many are trying to be “the one”: the site or service that brings it all together for you in that single grand narrative. However, there are plenty of career options and personality types we can think of for whom the lifestreaming concept (in its purest form) would not be appropriate (the extremely shy/reclusive: RIP J.D. Salinger, teachers at almost every level, lawmakers, etc.). There are also people for whom it’s possible, but ultimately the best use of channels, networks and streams always come back to identity, self-marketing, and comfort levels, and, well, to each their own. And all these digital platforms trying to sell us on connectedness from the net’s infancy to now has produced a fascinating zeitgeist of championing the network over the medium or the message.

The Stream Dream

Though there are some fervent social media butterflies out there testing the furthest limits of lifestreaming, most users intuitively understand that the point isn’t to get ALL of your life online, but to use these tools to achieve certain very specific goals. For most of us, that involves projecting one (or many) side(s) of our identities using one or more of these networking and publishing tools. So the question becomes, which sides to consolidate? If you’re like me, you’ve clearly delineated your private web life (for me that’s Facebook, but some people use Twitter, blogs, etc. for personal-only purposes) from your professional web life (LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter, etc.) and use social media in a way that maintains that separation. I don’t know very many people who can participate in lifestreaming in its purest form, nor do I think it is the best way for most of us to market ourselves.

Projecting Yourself

It’s one of the things I am wary of about services that encourage young people to blur the line between their professional and private selves with a single lifestream as they go through school and enter the job market. Not all of them think of shifting or changing this strategy over time. Sometimes maintaining lines with multiple streams is the best way to brand yourself and reach the right audience for each one. To borrow from corporate or business-speak, it’s kinda like horizontal v.s. vertical integration: if you’re vertically integrated (your interests, work, hobbies are all very inter-related), a single lifestream may work for you, but if you’re more horizontal or lateral like me (have a diversity of interests across what many see as disparate worlds, even if you don’t), multiple streams will likely suit you best.

Stream of Unconsciousness

For those who flinch at Facebook or turn away from Twitter, the idea of lifestreaming seems to be precisely what irks them about all the 2.0 noise out there. To these very particular luddites, each new 2.0 venture sounds more ludicrous than the last (here’s looking at you, Blippy!) and the casual throwing about of more and more microcontent and personal information is more plague than viral. For them, flavors.me will be just yet another blight on the net, tying in the flotsam and jetsam that they proudly proclaim not to care about. I actually meet a surprising number of my peers who feel this way, and I do understand an aversion to virtualizing your social self. Every now and then I go on a media diet in an effort to focus more on real-world face time. It can get overwhelming, and these services are designed to become as sticky as possible, to slowly encroach on your time more and more. But that’s how all media has always competed for our attention, so striking a balance between our media diets and our real lives is hardly a new phenomenon (though the interactive component certainly raises the addiction level).

flavors.me: not brought to you by the letter 'u'

flavors.me: not brought to you by the letter 'u'

I’d Like to Buy a Vowel

Unsurprisingly, my biggest issue with flavors.me is that they opted for the American spelling of flavour (thus forcing me to proof this post more than usual) and haven’t at least secured the domain and established a redirect for the British spelling. In an age where so many of these services drop one or more vowels altogether, maybe they should have gone with flavr or flava instead of putting all their eggs in a regional spelling basket.

Check it Out

If you want to play, too, go to http://flavors.me/, submit your email address and click on “notify me.” You’ll receive instructions on how to sign up (incidentally, this process isn’t very clear from their write-up, which makes it seem like the service is available by invitation-only). You can then set up a page in less than 5 minutes, whether you like the concept of lifestreaming or not.

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Posted under: Blogging, Memetastic, SEO, Social Media


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