Friday, April 4, 2008

you've been pownced

Had a good conversation with friends today. We were discussing the role of connections via social networking sites. The sheer number of networks that have come and gone, or come and don't get used or come and get used and get lost... it's insane. I had postulated that although I "belong" to a number of these networks, when it comes down to it, I only use three.

One is for networking. I build as many connections as I can, I welcome all who find me there.

One is for connecting. I get in touch with old acquaintances, stay in touch with friends, and am careful who I invite within that domain.

One is for dialogue. Spontaneous thoughts, insights, and delights.

And yet, I, like many, am a marked man. Discovered by a friend of a friend of my friend and now they want nothing more than to be connected. But to what end? To take an extra space in a list of names? To have a profile picture collecting virtual dust on my personal page? My hang up with MySpace (for me) was that it was all about numbers. So concerned with how many. It felt entirely pointless. Not everyone approaches it that way, but it feels embedded in the MySpace culture. So, when, say... Ed Cramley, who graduated high school 3 years after I did finds me and wants to be pals, I draw a line. Which is rude, isn't it? What harm would it be to have Ed listed amongst my friends? Well it feels entirely insincere to have Ed's picture listed amongst my "friends". I didn't know him a decade ago, I don't know him today... people aren't for collecting. So I ignore the invitation. Repeatedly, if necessary. Which, again, doesn't do much as far as building karma points.

So we came up with a plan today. A widget or app needs to be built (I'm nominating Phil) that acts as both a personal firewall and a social re-router. It needs to look at the spam-friends (those like Ed Cramley who serve no real purpose in my life at all) and filter them out, rather than rudely, to one of the other dozen social networks that I joined when I was trying them all on for size, and invites Ed Cramley to be my friend over there.

It's a kind of gentle breakup instead of a harsh "no thanks". A kind of deprioritization of social networks. I don't want you near my facebook account, so I'll re-route you to be "friends" with me over on Plaxo Pulse. Everyone happy? Perfect.

Hang on, I just got a reply from someone I haven't been in touch with from undergrad...sonuvabitch...I've just been Y!Mashed.
the thoughts and opinions expressed below are entirely my own, and are not necessarily shared by my friends, family, or employer. (though they very well might be...)