I am further down the rabbit hole of social media than I ever intended to be. It all started off so innocently: reading a couple of feeds, starting this blog, being thrilled when I realised that somebody other than myself might be reading it. Then I escalated into sharing some of the articles and blog posts from my feeds via Twitter, hoping somebody else might find them useful. Now I find myself in the throes of a full-blown RSS and Twitter crisis.
Initially, when most of my Tweets were only concerned with this blog, it was relatively easy to handle my social networking. I set multiple homepages for when I started up Firefox: my favourite forum, Google Reader, Splitweet and my email. Dealing with just one or two Twitter accounts was easy enough; all I had to do was concentrate to make sure that the right headlines went to the right Twitter account.
The problem started when I began collecting RSS feeds for my still-nascent Project X. I didn’t want the feeds from that polluting the already-bloated collection of feeds I use for Inari, so I started another Google Reader account, with corresponding email and Twitter. Then I had the idea for another project and did the same thing. Before I knew it I had five (five!) Twitter indentities and sets of RSS feeds with which to feed them.
Obviously I couldn’t log into all of them at once. Well, I could on Twitter, thanks to Splitweet and Twitterfox, but reading the RSS feeds was more difficult, as you can only log into one Google Reader or Gmail account at a time. I could combine all of my RSS feeds into one Giant account, but that would drive me insane, as I don’t think I would ever had less than 1000 unread items, which is my psychological breaking point. More than that at 8am and I write off the rest of the day. Some sort of accommodation needed to be made, but what?
One suggestion I had was to have separate Firefox profiles, where I could save my settings for each particular account and cycle through them as needed. I considered the idea, but as I understand it, I’d have to shut down the browser each time to make the change. Eventually, the solution I have arrived at is crude, low-tech, and what suits me best. I use Firefox for Inari and the Google Reader account associated with it, Chrome for Project X, Opera for yet another one of my hare-brained schemes, and Flock – the self-proclaimed social browser – for all of my personal stuff.
While it isn’t the most elegant method, Alt+Tab is quick than a browser shutdown and restart. It also means I can load up individual Twitter pages in each browser rather than having to rely on remembering which account I am Tweeting to when I use Splitweet, which I have used Prism to turn into a desktop application. Having said that, I use Splitweet more as a means of monitoring what the people I follow are saying. Due to the sheer number of Tweets I get through in a day (I’m sure I’ve lost followers because of it), I also use Futuretweets to schedule my updates, though I am looking for an alternative as it seems to have been falling over recently. HootSuite is doing a good job as an alternative, and it has the added advantage that if I ever share this blog with somebody else again, they can be added as a contributor on the same account.
This won’t work for everyone, and I know that people with multiple Twitter accounts already have solutions such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic (who have just released a browser platform) that they will be happy with, but for me, getting all of my various social accounts sequestered on different browsers has made them easier to handle. I have cut down on rogue Tweets, my RSS feeds are in the same windows as the accounts they are used for, and all the information I need is in separate and easily categorised. I haven’t thought of a way of doing it better yet, but if you have, please let me know.
[Image by Cayusa]