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Why I End Up Sharing Without Reading [en]

Why I End Up Sharing Without Reading [en]

[fr] Pourquoi je me retrouve parfois à partager sans lire.

A few weeks ago, I came upon an article (which I’m too tired to hunt for right now) which said that a huge number of articles shared through social media (understand: Twitter and Facebook) had not been read by those who share them.

I wasn’t surprised, because I do it regularly.

A few weeks after that, but still a few weeks ago, I shared an article I had just skimmed, and which was a pile of sh*t — and I missed that (also because it was on a topic I hadn’t done my homework on.) Thankfully I was quickly challenged by some of my followers, saw it, went back to the article, realised my mistake, removed it from my timeline (I didn’t want to spread it more), and apologised. I felt really bad.

Just like a car accident is waiting to happen if you habitually text as you drive or take other similar risks: it’s not because you manage to do it 50 times without getting into an accident that you won’t on the 51st.

Since then, I’ve been thinking really hard about this. I consider that being a reliable source is really important. I’m aware that as somebody with a bunch of followers/readers, I have a certain influence. It’s a responsibility. And I take it seriously.

So why do I end up, again and again, sharing links before I read them?

Tonight it dawned on me: it’s because of the way I browse — and maybe also because of how browsers are built.

As I scroll through my Facebook or Twitter timeline, I see article titles and summaries that look really interesting. I see who is sharing them and with what comments. Just as I am a trusted source for some, I have my trusted sources. I open said article in a new tab so that when I am in “reading mode” I can read it (and yes, I do do that). But right now I’m in browsing mode, so I continue scrolling down my timeline.

Do you see the problem, if I don’t share the interesting article right away? When I read it in a few hours or sometimes a few days, there will be no way for me to head back to the post or tweet that brought it to my attention to share it from there — and give credit to my source. So I take a small risk and share an article I know will be interesting and important, right, because I’m going to read it. (Yeah it’s faulty reasoning. But it makes sense in the moment.)

What’s missing here is a way to trace how one got to a given page, sometimes opened in a new tab. It’s even worse in mobile. Or “that page I stuck in Instapaper 5 months ago” — where did it come from?

When I’m “scanning”, I like to stay in “scanning/discovering” mode. When I’m reading, I stay in reading mode. The problem is that the “share” function is tied to the “scanning/discovering” mode. Exception: the stuff I put in Digital Crumble, which is excerpts of what I am currently reading, as I read it.

Do you sometimes share before you read? Have you tried to analyse why?

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Losing Credit [en]

Losing Credit [en]

[fr] De plus en plus, quand je partage un article intéressant sur Twitter ou Facebook, j'ai complètement perdu la trace de comment j'y suis arrivé. Ça m'embête, parce que je trouve important de donner un "retour d'ascenseur" (si petit soit-il) à ceux qui enrichissent mes lectures.

I have about 20 tabs open in Chrome with articles to read. And then, I have a scary number of links stacked away in Instapaper and (OMG how will I retrieve them all) many more in my Twitter favorites.

My sources for reading this day? My facebook news stream, Twitter, Tumblr, the odd e-mail from my Dad (he’s the one who pointed me to the BBC piece on the Ugly Indians of Bangalore — check out my post about them — amongst other things). I’ve signed up for Summify and though I have barely set it up, I find good reading in the daily e-mail summary it sends me. I can also see that Flipboard is going to become a source of choice for me once I’m back in Switzerland and have normal data access on my phone. And of course, once I’m reading an article, I click interesting links in it and often find other interesting articles in the traditional “related” links at the end.

Once I’m reading an article, I post snippets I find relevant to Digital Crumble, and depending on how interesting the article is, post it to Twitter, Facebook, or Climb to the Stars.

Why am I telling you all this?

I believe it’s important to give credit to those who point me to stuff interesting enough that I want to point others to it. The traditional “hat tip” or “via” mention. But I’m finding it more and more difficult to remember how I got to a particular page or article. Actually, most of the time, by the time I’m ready to reshare something, I have no clue how I arrived there.

This happened in the good old days of blogging as only king of online self-expression, of course, but less, I think. Our sources were more limited. Concentrated in one place, the aggregator. Shared by less people, in a more “personal” way (how much personal expression is there in tweet that merely states the title of an article and gives you the link?). When I click an article in my Facebook newsfeed, I don’t often pay attention to who shared it. It’s just there.

So, I wish my open tabs had some way of remembering where they came from. That, actually, is one of the reasons I like using Twitter on my phone, because the links are opened in the same application, and when I go back I see exactly which tweet I clicked the link from. Sadly, sharing snippets to Tumblr (something that’s important to me) does not exactly work well inside the mobile Twitter app.

Is anybody working on this? Is this an issue you care about too? I’d love to hear about it.

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