It seems that a huge segment of the world’s population has gone Twitter and Facebook crazy. People are busy updating their statuses, sending each other links, and trying to see how many “friends” and “followers” they can get. We are becoming social “broadcasters”, constantly bombarding our “friends” with 140 character chunks of information. In reality, these social networks are all about making “ME” feel good about myself, tricking us into thinking that people care about what we say … or maybe they really do care?
While sociologists are studying the effects of this social network phenomenon and what it means for society, there’s no doubt that social networks are big, really big! Not to be left out of the bit “ME” craze, the upcoming Ubuntu 10.04 release will include the “MeMenu.” The MeMenu will be your one-stop spot for sending out all your social media broadcasts right from within Ubuntu.
Plans for the MeMenu have been posted on Ubuntu’s wiki. According to the wiki, the MeMenu should “let you broadcast to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, set your status for instant messaging, and access settings for instant messaging, microblogging, and Ubuntu One.” They include mockups of the interface, which honestly, looks pretty cool.
The latest daily builds of Ubuntu 10.04 show that substancial progress is being made on the MeMenu. It seems that Canonical and the Ubuntu community are serious about getting this done before the final release. Currently, you need to install the Gwibber package manually before the MeMenu “Broadcast Accounts” work. Once Gwibber is installed, you can post directly to Facebook, Twitter or Identi.ca from the MeMenu.
From a technical standpoint, this seems like a great idea. It also appears rather risky. Who will people blame when Facebook or Twitter change their APIs and the MeMenu stops working? They’ll blame Ubuntu, of course, even if it’s not their fault. If Canonical is going to include these social features as part of the core Ubuntu LTS release, I hope they’re ready to quickly fix bugs as social networks change APIs and break Gwibber and the MeMenu.
If executed well, these plans could turn into a great addition to the Ubuntu desktop. Perhaps Ubuntu will benefit by helping its users to become “Social Broadcasters” … hopefully they’ll be broadcasting about how great Ubuntu is and not posting things like “stupid MeMenu is not working again” or “No audio again in Ubuntu, need to reboot!”