I like the next generation of social networks, collective-intelligence and music recommendation sites that are spawning. I find a few of these sites to be incredibly innovative and creative.
However, every time a new site launches, I am asked to invite my friends, or to see who has already signed up. I will not invite another friend, or do a search for friends, again. I am done with having to introduce myself to every program I join. I find the same first-mover friends there. A feedback loop.
It is time for a friend clearinghouse. One site where I aggregate all of my friends, and from where I can grade them accordingly, with limits on their ability to access my collective intelligence.
My grandfather used to read the morning paper. My father would watch the evening news. They would each have a scotch after dinner. Imagine if we increased our consumption of alcohol proportionally to our increase in media. Is it Real Time or Steal Time?
Many of my dearest friends and family members are too busy. They don’t have any free time. They spend so much energy on electronic media, that they have forgotten how to communicate face to face. There is just too much ground-breaking news, too many deals to close, too much information to absorb, and if you missed that split second when it was announced, well…
There have been recent studies that claim you spend more time on social media when you are depressed. I state the opposite is true. I believe social media causes depression, the way overeating causes diabetes.
Sometimes you just need to lift your head. Look around you. Look up, look down. See the piece of gum on the sidewalk before you step on it.
Here is my response to Fred Wilson’s post “Open APIs and Open Standards” relating to Dave Winer’s post about how open standards are created.
You are all much smarter than I am, and I understand the excitement surrounding the drama of todays new technologies. However, we have all seen the exponential growth of communication and media (new, old, social, etc) over the last 15 years. My question to you is this, have we seen this all before, or have we finally obtained that magical destination that we have been reaching for?
I desire that we all accept that this is only what is happening at this moment. I suggest, there are two more kids in a dormroom, or in a hilltop village in (use your imagination) who will completely knock us off our collective feet again, and again, and again. I find this incredibly exciting, globally democratic, but also a bit sobering.
My point is, I can read a P&L, I can read music, I can read a little Hebrew, maybe even a palm or two, but I do not desire to read code. Just make it simple for me. Don’t ask me to invite anymore friends to anything, I need a “friend clearinghouse.” Don’t ask me to fight someone for a URL or Twitter handle, make it universal. Fair enough?
When I first joined Facebook a year ago, I invited a few friends to join me. They were not my childhood ‘lifetime’ friends (most of whom have yet to join a social network), but were close friends that I was socially involved with. We shared some very funny and intimate moments.
Soon thereafter I ran into someone who mentioned he had thousands of ‘friends’ on FB. I was surprised. Why? He explained to me that it was his personal broadcast network. So of course, I went on to invite a few hundred people. The intimate social aspect of the experience evaporated. A large majority of the posts now are self-promoting or business related.
I have become a more active participant in the world of blogs and tweets. There are people that I have always wanted to meet, but have not yet had the opportunity too. Well, I can now follow them. But, they do not have to follow me. I read their words, their thoughts, and now, I even know their whereabouts. Somehow I feel like I know them. Yet, it is weird that I have never met them. It is creepy. They are ‘Friends in my Head.’
Recently I ran into a ‘friend in my head’ at an event. I was introduced, and I had forgotten that we never met. I jumped right into a discussion related to one of his blogs. He has millions of followers. I knew a lot about him. But, he didn’t follow me. He only knew a bit about my past, and from what I had posted on his blog. We didn’t know each other equally.
Kurt Vonnegut said in 2001, in a brilliant mashup dvd/film One Giant Leap, that ‘most people’s best friends are on TV.’ Now, many people’s best friends are ‘in their head.’
One needs to think about the superficiality of the depth of their followers if they are looking for a personal social experience. To many, there is a reduced value to multiple followers. We are now ‘grading our friends’ and are becoming a ‘stalker society’.
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