Private and public messaging – Sorting it out

Posted: July 27, 2010 in Webtheory
Tags: , , , , , ,
On the professional social network LinkedIn a direct message basically costs $5 USD. This makes InMail (supposedly) much more efficient than E-Mail.

Why?

The fact that you pay for the message is a signal that you value contacting the person you are contacting.

On twitter, there is no monetary price for direct messaging and direct messages (DMs) on twitter are being abused. If you follow many people you get so many automated DMs that you eventually stop reading them.

It seems to me that a public messages has a higher value on twitter than a private one.

This looks like a paradox, but  it can be argued the principle is the same as on LinkedIn even though the consequence is opposite:

1. Public messaging gives visibilty to the person you are messaging (you signal that you value her/him)

This functions like payment. You could (and some did) argue that twitter is an economy where attention is the currency. Mentioning someone on twitter (e.g. @hypios) is therefore like paying for a private message on LinkedIn.

2. You give public visibilty to the content of your message.

In this sense it’s like the old public letters that used to appear in newspapers, like Emile Zola’s J’accuse.

If you are criticizing the person (or brand), (s)he has a much stronger incentive to answer when your criticism is public (this is why people tend to send public letters for political causes), because if there’s no reply other people might think the criticism is justified and that the person (brand) being adressed has no answer.

Open Challenges: take it up (and let me if you do)!

The pros and cons for  making public and making private contact online should be clarified:

How does it affect reception of one and the same “comment” or “message” if it’s made/sent in private vs. in public?

What are the implications of sending private or public messages?

What does it imply to publicly “like”  or even “share” something? Does it always mean you adhere? What is “ironic likeing”?

How often do we like the content of what is shared vs. the fact that it is shared, e.g. if someone shares an article on how Berlusconi did something impossible again?

Is there a (non-monetary) way to make certain emails more valuable and incentivize reading?

What are the start-up companies, tools, apis that work on value of messages and help  you pre-organize your messages according to relative importance?

(N.B. an earlier version of this post was published on the -now defunct?- bigstartups.com)

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