Choosing sides in the Social Network War

I just wanted to chime in on the current huzzbabuzz about the new social network on the block, Google+.
Access to the network is filtering out slowly from the social circle of Google employees, so at the moment G+ has fairly nerdy content. There is also a lot of excitement amongst these early adopters and some people are saying they will delete their Facebook accounts and never go back because G+ is so much better. I agree it’s better but I’d like to argue for a cool down period before people start drawing lines in the sand and pressuring others to switch.

I think you should think of social networks as if they were cities.
There are a lot of these cities and towns right now all with very different cultures and populations:

  • LinkedInPark
  • Gplussopolis
  • FacebookCity
  • Tumblrtown
  • Stumblessauga
  • QuoraCommune
  • MySpaceVille
  • Yahooburgh

Many people ‘live’ in multiple cities and this is as it should be since they all offer quite different experiences. The thing with G+ is that it is more general than most of these services and in particular it seems that the goal is that very soon more  features will be added so that G+ will completely subsume the features of Facebook and Twitter. So, you know, it is war in fact.

But keep in mind it is war between the companies running these services, the populations don’t need to get involved.

We probably all have a home city, a social network we live in more than others. For most people that’s Facebook. It’s like the suburban heartland megacity of social networks. Its pretty much where everyone is, its good, could be better, it’s full of drive-thrus fast food, highways and casinos; but it’s hard to change things now because its so damn big.

For other people their home is Twitter.
Twitter is so cool you don’t even need to talk, you just exchange compact, knowing glances and handshakes. Its Seattle, Montreal or the Village; it doesn’t need you and your paragraph length diatribes.
But now we have G+. It’s cool, technically savvy, fast and connects everything. It’s San Francisco and all the nerds are moving over and proclaiming in their old haunts how much better everything would be if all your pleebs just switched over too.

Just because you move to a new city and like it better doesn’t mean you abandon the old one entirely.  You still know alot of people in the old place, people you care about, one would assume. Hassling those people to come live in your fancy new city, even saying you’re just not going to call or visit the old place because it so out of date, well, that’s kind of rude.  You wouldn’t threaten to cut all contact with people just because they refuse to move to another city in the real world, so why do it in the virtual world? (I know its not exactly the same, since you probably will still email or meet these people in real life, but there is a personal tone developing to the community you use which seems unnecessary)

Some people just don’t like moving and may never move. When it comes down to it, these social network cities are about the people in them, not the technology we are using. So I’m still in FacebookCity and I’m going to stay,  or at least keep visiting, as long as I have lots of friends there, which will be for a long time I expet.

But lets just say I’m not buying a new house there anytime soon and I’m spending a lot of time visiting the shiny new metropolis. So if you want to stop by, I’ll show you around.

The First Annual Holiday FFriend Shout Out

Cross-posted to Pop The Stack

This is the time of year  when we all make a little effort to send a gift to our family and close friends.  Other friends get maybe card and no gift and that’s fine too, we aren’t all made of money and getting  good gift for people we know really well is hard enough.  But these days we also have a lot of ‘friends’ who may miss out on that card for whatever reason yet still deserve something.

Maybe you haven’t actually met and talked to them in years, or ever. You don’t even have their address but you see them on Facebook from time to time and you even chat once in a while or comment on their status or a link they posted.  They are more than acquaintances, you feel a connection. But they aren’t the friends you hang out with, at least not right now.  Let’s call them ffriends.

What is the proper way to let them know what they mean to you?  A broadcast post on your Facebook  wall is too little. It makes no distinction between family, friends,  ffriends and real acquaintances who you don’t really know but have ‘friended’ for whatever reason.

An individual e-card or Facebook message is too much, maybe you don’t really have enough to say to each ffriend individually and there could be lots of them.  But you do have some kind of connection. You like the occasional news about your ffriend’s lives. You like chatting with them and you maybe you hope that someday they become (or return to being) friends rather than just ffriends.

So here’s the idea. Sometime this holiday season put up a wall post something like the following:

My family and close friends get all the attention. But I just wanted to let you all know, that even though we don’t see each other much in the real world, haven’t met in years or have never met at all, I appreciate the connection that we do have and hope it grows in the future: @bobwhatisname @thatguyfromstarbucks @amyfromhighschool @louthemechanic @ericmythirdcousin @guyfromlastjob

Merry Holidays

Wouldn’t that be nice?  You need to do it right. Think about the wording and think carefully about the people you put on it.  Someone who thinks you are best buds in real life may not appreciate this, but then again, if its done with a positive tone maybe it will clarify a relationship.  You also don’t want to be too restrictive, go through your friend list and add everyone who isn’t an acquaintance and then take off people who you are sending a christmas card.

For me, there are loads of people I’ve got in touch with on Facebook who I haven’t seen in years.  We don’t actually talk that much but I appreciate them and hope to see them in the real world if the stars align properly.  Then there are other people I’ve never even met before. I know them as an issue or idea that we have in common, from a  discussions in a groups or through mutual friends.  These people would be pleasantly surprised to be added to an explicit list of people in this way. It would just be nice to give them all a nudge and say,

‘hey, you know, I notice you and I’m glad we’re having the connection we are having. Even if it is limited right now. Maybe, someday it will become more.  But either way, have a nice holiday. ok?’

Twitter actually has something like this every week.  Every friday tweeters post a #followfriday message, something like:

These are the ones, great tweeps #ff @mrawesome @msawesome @erictheguy @mikethedude @nancythefancy @jillthethrill

I have actually been arguing that follow friday needs to become more selective because many people just post multiple tweets with lists and lists of everyone they feel any connection to whatsoever.  This makes follow friday more of the shout out rather than the original intent of helping people find good tweeps to follow.  On follow friday I always try to limit myself to one person who was extra great that week as advice for anyone who cares to consider following them.  But my suggestion for the First Annual Holiday FFriend Shout Out is pretty much exactly how #followfriday works right now on twitter. But just once a year.

So, you know. Go do that.  If you like.  I think I will, now that I’ve suggested it and everything.

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