Yes/No Friendships

Jan 5, 2008

Doc Searls posted an interesting comment on his blog:

A few years ago, when Google’s Orkut presented the first of the truly useful and enjoyable “social networks,” Rael Dornfest one night at a bar jokingly walked up to a series of people, pushed his face into theirs and yelled “YOU ARE MY FRIEND! YES OR NO!”, to mimic the extremely clunky way that Orkut failed to replicate the nuanced methods by which humans have always formed and maintained friendships.

It got me thinking about social networks in general. That friend-ing mechanism hasn’t really changed since then. Even now, on Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, whatever network you go to, it’s more or less still the same way of friend-ing people.

Yes, features have changed, we can do more things to our friends. But the basic idea of it hasn’t changed. And personally, I think it needs to. I think the “Yes/No” nature of social network “friendships” is far too shallow. And especially as we move more and more of our lives and relationships online, we need a system that goes deeper.

Something that captures the “Friends vs friends” question that CC Chapman asked, and his listeners responded to. For those of you who haven’t yet, I recommend you listen in to that podcast.

In real life, friendships have a lot of nuances. There are different levels of friendship. Different types of friendship. There are different ways in which we make friends. It’s not just the “yes/no” thing that social networks make it out to be.

How can we reflect these nuances online, though? That’s the question. I don’t have a clear answer to it. Just thought I’d throw the question out there. I think a good first step would be having ‘groups’, and having the ability to show different information, and interact in different ways, with the different groups. Maybe almost something like “sub-accounts”. I don’t know how (or if) any of this would work, but I do think we need to think about this, and how this will change.

What are your thoughts? Any ideas on how the ‘social networking’ space can develop further?

Mi Casa es Su Casa

Dec 27, 2007

Ok, maybe not my literal house. But this blog, my “virtual home”, if you will, is yours as much as mine. And in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I’d mention this.

This blog is licensed under Creative Commons. Without going into too much legalese, here’s what it means for you. It means you can take my content, and use it in any way you want, with just two conditions. Firstly, if you give me credit by linking to the site. And secondly, if you’re using it for a non-commercial use.

Why this license? Because I would love for you to take my content. I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on what I write. But I’d love credit and a link, not only for my ego (though it does play a part), but also to make it easier for me to track the conversations. So I can join in any conversations instigated by the things I write.

So please. Take my content. Reproduce it. Add your thoughts. It’d be an honor to have my content out there.

Scheduled Personal Start Pages

Dec 26, 2007

Was thinking about Netvibes and iGoogle and the like. “Personal start pages”, if you will. These services allow you to set up a page and read numerous feeds and email, etc, from one page. Sort of a way to organize surfing, if you will.

But most of us don’t have just one fixed collection of things we do/want to see when we go online, do we? We have schedules. Some of us wouldn’t want to see our work email on weekends, for example. Or comics if we’re accessing during work hours (when we’re likely in the office).

How hard would it be to build in a scheduler for these personal start pages? I think it would be quite useful. A optional setting for when you add a new feed to the page, to select certain time periods when it will show, and when it will not. By day, or even by hour/time if you want to be anal about it. But it should be possible. And not particularly hard to do.

What do you guys think? Decent/interesting idea? Would it be useful for you? Or do you think I’m way off the mark?

Oh, and if you think it’d be an interesting/useful service, and would like to help create something like that (which I intend to try doing), drop me a line. I’d love all the help I can get.

Social Media – Changing the World

Dec 21, 2007

Yet another inspiring story about how social media can make a difference. Blogs, Twitter, Podcasting, etc aren’t tools being used to waste time. They aren’t just about being heard, and getting your voice out there. It’s about relationships. Connecting with people.

I personally haven’t gotten involved in this too much partly because I haven’t been on Twitter that much in recent weeks, and partly because I personally don’t know how I can really help (can’t donate online because I don’t have a credit card).

Susan Reynolds is an artist, author and just a really creative person. She’s been quite involved in Twitter and Second Life, and just building relationships in these digital realms. Recently, she has been diagnosed with cancer. After a “full afternoon and multiple stab wounds”, as she put it, she needed something cool to help keep bleeding down and relieve the pain, and finding traditional ice packs too heavy, she decided to use a bag of frozen peas. She took a photo of it, and shared her story on Twitter.

A few days later, Cathleen Rittereiser suggested that people donate the cost of a bag of frozen peas to fund cancer research. Susan’s friends took that off-the-cuff remark, and ran with it. And as of today, we now have the Frozen Pea Fund, which will be raising money for breast cancer research, in Susan’s name. Lots of people are contributing in different ways. Spreading the message by inserting peas into their avatars (pea-vatars as they call it), building the wordpress site, and many other ways I’m probably unaware of.

You can read more from Connie Reece. Or you can go straight to the Frozen Pea Fund and donate.

I just thought I’d try to help by spreading the word. Social media, all this blogging and Twittering and all, is about real people. It’s about real connections being formed. It’s about a real difference being made. Why don’t you join in?