...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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June 29, 2005 || 11:08 pm
An expanded post on 'social networks'

For me the internet is a tool. I appreciate its ability to link me up with people but my primary interest is not in making new best friends - it's in staying abreast with developments in areas that I'm interested in, and finding out stuff I want to know for work or play. I don't care about the online popularity contests. Now in MyWeb, if I save a link, I can't see if anyone outside my contacts has also saved it and therefore, whether they might be potential good new contacts of mine. It relies on finding people through the friendship-based 'degrees of separation' not the shared-interest based 'we share links' like in delicious, where I regularly link-hop to find people whose bookmarks might be worth raiding. And for my internet, the 'degrees of separation' through shared links/interests is way more interesting and useful than going through my buddies.

Friendster, Orkut, etc seem to me to have really failed to stay popular with 'online' types. Once factor is the amount of time it takes to make sure your profile is up to date vs the amount of people you get trying to link up with you who you don't care about. Whereas if you have a blog, you are updating it because you want to talk about a topic you find interesting, then you attract comments via technorati etc, and then you make new connections with true shared interests. A blog is a more creative way of expressing yourself in than a Friendster profile. A lot of people over here use Friendster but they are mostly people I'm pretty disparaging about...and there's obviously a certain class of blogger who falls into the same category ("today I went to the beach and hooked up with this reeeaally cute guy. It was so much fun!!!!!!!! ; ) ")

So, probably what I am trying to say is that there is a network for everyone. If you use the internet to make friends, great to share your social bookmarks via Yahoo, and they can replace those annoying round robin emails of 'urban legends' or 'funny' photos. But for a more 'sophisticated' community I'm really not sure how much use it is going to be. We need to be streamlined with our time and it's easier for me to get a RSS feed from an interesting someone's delicious links, blog or whatever, then if I want to, make a comment on their site, and if they feel like pursuing the correspondence further we can link up. Those emails that say "X wants you to be their friend!" really bug me and clog up my inbox.

Of course, like everyone, if MyWeb really takes off and suddenly everyone who I'm interested in is using it, I will be forced to make the move. Especially if it takes off in a work arena, so as 'everybody who's anybody' is doing it. But judging by my friends, I don't think they are going to be seen dead near the crass graphic design and cheesy friendster-ish air of MyWeb...

8 comments

8 Comments:

agreed. (incidentally, your flickr photos are nice)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 am  

I completely agree that there is a difference between connections based on common interests and conections with buddies you have already established. However, I am not sure that the answer has to be one or the other.

Will give it a try at blinklist to marry the two. I think both have their place for different occasions.

By Blogger Mind Valley, at 7:33 am  

I like the individuality and freedom given by blogs. You're basically your own admin. You set the topic, format, and rules.

One of the reasons I think social network websites fail is because of the diversity of our friends. We when recommend friends to other friends, it's a personalized recommendation.

Social networking websites just list all of our friends, but give no context. At least blogs tend to have a narrower focus and attract the same type of friends.

Bloggers can do more to describe this context. Try providing more of a description for your links. Think of the reasons someone might like your blog, and how you can connect them to other sites for the same reasons. A good recommendation will improve the image of both your site and the site you link to.

By Blogger Kyle Stemen, at 10:11 am  

A small world has worked well as an "exclusive" network, where friendster has not had the same impact. But maybe there's space for more than one type of network although the theories tend to suggest that networks are nodal and not gaussian, such that there will only beone or two dominant players in each domain eg ebay or amazon which attract most traffic. Also, popular blogs are nodal rather than a gaussian/normal distribution.

By Blogger Ben Yeoh, at 10:57 pm  

Of course, the big players will always attract most traffic. But I think what's interesting is that, as you say, A Small World has worked as a more 'exclusive network' and the web is an ideal place for smaller networks to flourish (long tail theory again). I will always be reading the big sites like the BBC, etc (nodal sites) but I don't expect to find new contacts through them as they are just too big. Similarly with the big blogs your comments get lost in the morass. But the feed I get through del.icio.us of certain less common tags (architecture, urbandesign, planning) is really useful as it directs me to sites that are much less well known but often more innovative/cutting edge b/c they haven't been picked up by the mainstream blogs/media. That's why I think, in a parallel of a lot of the economic arguments about global/local, it's all about either really big (google, amazon) or really small. And the one shouldn't really try to be the other.

By Blogger HL, at 11:13 pm  

Putting my invesment analyst hat on. There's an interesting parallel between what you say and what a lot of coprorates are aiming for.

So, in pharmaceuticals, you are either going big think GlaxoSmithKline or Pfizer or small think biotechs you've never heard of.

The two quirks aer: the "big" licenses the R&D/discoveries of the small, who are though of as more innovative.

some fo the "big" try to recreate the environment of the small, eg GSk which has small biotech-like untis with in its global structure or even google with famously a certain amount of time employees are allowed for blue sky thinking.

By Blogger Ben Yeoh, at 9:42 pm  

Yes - i think it's an old/new economic argument (at least I remember my father talking that way about food/drink and how it was polarising into Scottish & Newcastle vs the really small brands like Adnams.) And the big licensing from (or taking over) the small is definitely exactly how IT/new media tech now works. The head eats its long tail (or something...they are symbiotic, at any rate!)

By Blogger HL, at 10:53 pm  

agreed!

By Anonymous Sarah, at 2:49 pm  

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