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?