Let’s make the conversation faster

Alternative microblogging/aggregation platform, FriendFeed relaunched today with a cascading conversation format that updates constantly. So fast in fact they had to insert a Pause button so you can read what people are saying and respond. It’s all about making the conversation faster – more input, in less time.

But potentially too fast. Twitter was awash with comments about users not being able to keep up. Certainly if you follow several thousand people, the effect will be akin to standing in crowded room with everyone talking at once. Lots of noise, no signal.

The challenge here is that communications is not about talking more quickly. It’s about talking more clearly. And often that means talking slowly. The points need to be delivered at a pace where the audience can understand (and respond). The more complex the message, the slower the delivery. Conversations are not about machine-gunning minutiae at a broad spectrum of people in the hope some of it will stick.

I wonder where the trend of conversations getting shorter (140 characters) and faster (like FF) will lead. Just like razor blade companies trying to convince us that 5 blades are better than 2, (or URL shorteners convincing us that 7 characters are better than 9), will communicators buy the new shiny? Does it add to the conversation mix? Certainly, it will be up to us to advise on where these tools fit into the mix, and more importantly how.