When I was watching Kevin Systrom speak about Instagram at the Castro Theater with Kevin Rose back in May, I distinctly remember one particular question. KR was reading a question from the audience to the two cofounders of Insta:
Kevin Rose (Reading a question from the audience): "Hollerback is being called the New Instagram, have either of you used Hollerback?"
KR looks around and says, "Hey guys, maybe I'm getting too old for this, but I've never heard of this. Have either of you heard of Hollerback?"
Kevin Systrom pipes up, totally confused, "No, I honestly can't say that I have."
KR turns to the audience and says "Does anyone use Hollerback?" Complete silence from the audience, crickets even; not one hand goes up.
KR looks out on the audience and says "Is that the CEO of Hollerback up there asking this question?"
"Yes..." A timid voice is heard to say from the audience.
And that my friends is modern guerrilla marketing and how I've heard of Hollerback when they haven't launched yet. Frankly, I thought it was deplorable at the time but in retrospect it did leave an impact on me (whether it was positive or absurdly negative though, I can't tell). I do find it interesting that reading this article made me recall that anecdote so clearly. Branding in action I suppose...
As an aside, I had the pleasure to meet him at Disrupt in 2010 right after the launch of Digg v4. It struck me as an incredibly interesting moment in time (to set the stage, Digg had just flattened their site, removed granular categorization and was now pulling in content automatically while Reddit was, antithetically, doing the complete opposite).
I talked with Kevin and it was clear to me that he knew what was at stake and that he was doing his best to deliver what he thought was the right answer. It's sort of like 1984 versus Brave New World. The leader in '84 is sort of a tyrant and we almost universally reject his dictum because of this. In BNW, Huxley's leader genuinely believes that what he's doing is right, and he's not sure, but what he is sure is that he thinks what he's doing is the best way to lead.
This was a profound lesson, for me, about management. Even though Kevin Rose was ultimately mistaken about his hypothesis, he executed with conviction and leadership. On some level, you still have to admire the captain of the Titanic, and that's a sort of backhanded way of explaining why I admire Kevin Rose so much.
To fail, and rise from the ashes, is one of the most difficult things in the world, but I think Kevin has certainly done it.
I don't think it made a good impression on me, but it was definitely memorable.
Besides, even if you're so dumb that you can't stop adding strangers as friends, rest assured that on your feed you'll only see activity from the people with whom you interact the most. So, basically, the whole thing is pointless.
Because every person has a different idea about when and who it is appropriate to friend on Facebook and no one is really right or wrong, it's just a preference.
However this makes for awkward social situations.
For example your college classmate that you don't really know, adds you on Facebook because hey you are his classmate (or teammate).
To him, that relationship is sufficient to justify connecting with someone on Facebook.
To you, that may be far from it because you choose to keep ~60 friends but he likes to have a broader network.
This happens in all sorts of different contexts. For example you meet someone at a local community meetup, or you speak at a conference and people that you see there will ask to add you on Facebook.
At that point, how do you gracefully handle the situation?
Do you really turn around and say "Uh...yeah thanks...but I only keep 'real' friends on Facebook". Or "Uh...sorry I can't commit to a Facebook friendship right now...you are not good enough of a friend just yet to qualify".
No matter how you put it, you come off as rude and weird and that person will likely not even come close to you any more. But your relationship would otherwise be valuable.
That's one of the many reasons I don't have a Facebook account.
Personally, I try not to use FB as I do LinkedIn. It's strictly for my personal, not professional, network. With only enough exceptions to count on one hand, I don't accept anyone with whom I haven't spent a significant amount of time.
The median friend count in 2011 was ~100 . I'm not sure if any more recent confirmed numbers exist, but various articles from 2012 seem to indicate that's crept up to ~130, as well as an average add of ~7 friends a month.
So perhaps the median user is "so dumb that [they] can't stop adding strangers as friends", but that doesn't change the fact that this is the most common usage pattern.
Mine is that if everyone is using it wrong, it's time to revisit my assumptions around or definition of "using it right".
You're right though. First off, I hope your parent was joking, because if not, what he said makes no sense and isn't really related to the subject at hand. Second, while the whole domestic spying scandal is serious business, it doesn't have to be injected into every conversation. Third, you're right. There is no evidence to support that anyone has ever targeted a random individual for the sake of it and you probably shouldn't be using something like Facebook if you plan to discuss criminal activity, and yeah, no matter who you are you can't expect an inkling of privacy online. But that's not really specific to the government either. I can spy you, the guy down the street can, it doesn't take the kind of infrastructure the NSA has to spy on someone. Hell, I'd be more paranoid that random people are spying on me than the NSA. The randoms are more likely to target you for no reason while the NSA, from what we can gather, is more than happy to collect your data and never look at it - like ever.
Questioning the amount of paranoia we seem to have and being pro-NSA spying are not the same thing and it seems like a lot of people aren't able to separate out some of the nuance.
It's good to get it out sometimes ;)
Maybe there should be a internet law about how anything being discussed on the internet dealing with technology will eventually delve into something on/about surveillance :P
Quite honestly, I think FB (as an example) tries to do this already. When I "Like" friend A's feeds more often than friend B's feeds, I see more of friend A's feeds. As far as "engagement" goes, I assume the author means "quality of engagement". How do you begin to come up with a way of quantifying the quality of an engagement for one person versus another? Time of engagement? Number of words spoken/written?
"Based on current smartphone technology, social networks can and should leverage location, time, frequency of interaction, and behavioral similarities."
Smartphone, laptop, whatever, they're just data collection vehicles. The difficulty is developing a model that maps values to people. Someone optimizing a social network for behavioral similarities, for example, fails if the individuals in the network thrive on behavioral differences.
There is plenty of room for improvement with social networks. I don't think the way forward is for social networks to improve on network building optimizations.
FB then relies on the user to input this data with the promise that the data will be spit back out in a relevant, useful, and entertaining way.
Phones, contrastingly, can pick up all this external engagement passively and produce a more representative of a true life social network. Because its data collection is passive, it can dynamically adapt a network without explicit user input.
Thus why lists were created. Google "got this right" with Circles.
> The next great social network will provide its users with an experience that values friendships and relationships dynamically.
Basically an "Auto-Signal-Noise" generator. I get it, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.
The problem is most people can't even assign true value to their own friendships. Why is a piece of technology going to do that any better?
I wrote about my thoughts more in depth about this awhile ago: http://www.techdisruptive.com/2012/09/18/we-are-far-from-sol...
And this sort of approach encourages a power-law distribution in who ends up in my feed and that's misguided.
The thing is, actually, I want to see the important updates from all of my friends on FB and the fluffy stuff from only my closest friends and family.
It's not just who, but what -- and yes, that's harder to algorithmically assess, for now, but that doesn't change that anything short of it isn't the big-win solution as the author proposes, IMHO.
However, I think the opportunity (from both a business and user experience perspective) is for a true digital representation of your current real life social network.
I care deeply about friends and family that I cannot see on a daily basis because of distance and time. That doesn't make those bonds any less real or important and it doesn't mean that online socialization (jokes aside) is any less meaningful than "real life" (there are, in fact, scholarly research publications that support this and I could find them, but honestly, it's been a long day).
Moreover, frequency of interaction doesn't always reflect strength of social bond. I have friends I would kill for who I talk to once a month or less, simply due to schedule, new parenthood, etc. I think that's certainly the case for many adults.
For example, in traditional relationships, the closer you are to someone the more they know about you.
Your parents probably know many things about you that your wife/husband and your best friends don't know.
Your wife/husband knows things about you that your best friends don't know.
Your best friend knows things about you that your friends don't.
Your friends know things about you that I don't know.
And it goes on and on...
This feature of traditional relationships is extremely important and valuable to me.
If you get out of touch with someone, their knowledge of you gets outdated. As you become more intimate with someone, they learn more and more about you.
So there's a natural self-adjusting and dynamic layer and hierarchy to traditional relationships that keeps everyone sane and allows for longevity of relationships.
Social networks throw everyone in the same bucket. Granted they provide you with tools to try and manage the mess like the circles and lists. But that is not really dynamic and to me is very unattractive, imperfect and time consuming. I'm not willing to spend hours managing my social network.
Traditional relationships take care of themselves.
I check facebook daily and really feel like it has made it possible to still be part of my friends' lives.
I have run into a bit of a niche use case issue recently though. My hobby is skydiving and facebook has become the way that I get access to photos and videos taken by my new "skydiving friends". So it is quite a regular scene that after jumping with a group of people for a day we'll all trade facebook details, add each other as friends and tag everyone in photos and videos.
This is excellent.... except that these new found friends have access to all my facebook history unless I work out some way to manage the privacy features.
I looked into this today and the "acquaintances" idea kind of fits... except this lowers the weight of these people's updates making it into my news feed, which isn't what I want. I'm really keen to see skydiving related posts from this group of people. I want to know the next time they're planning on a trip to the dropzone. I want to see their other skydiving photos.
So I make a skydivers group and I can limit my old posts to not show up for these people. When I make new posts I can include them if it is skydiving related. But I'm relying on them doing the same. I can't see anyway that facebook makes it easy for me to filter their content. It seems all or nothing. Either I get all their updates or none.
Forgive me for not leaping for joy at the prospect of this future. Imagine if FourSquare were always (literally) on, and tracking literally everyone you meet. And then they started selling your data for advertising, as they're doing now. Or they get hacked, and someone dumps the data / performs enough queries to make an extremely detailed ID-theft of a handful of random people.
I'd rather not have all my past, present, and future eggs in the hands of one anything, much less a for-profit company.
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are just as the author describes, "a digital filing cabinet that you fill with your relationships." They have peripheral uses like being a channel for recruiters and being quoted on mass media, but fundamentally they store contact information.
A "digital filing cabinet" for storing slightly different sets of relationships seems like a tool with limited use, rather than a true virtualization or revolution of social interaction.
I would say that social networks or "social spaces/contexts" (maybe someone can coin a better term than me) that actually facilitate meaningfully novel kinds of social interaction, start relationships, and generate content are more along the lines of HN, reddit, IRC, and forums (online spaces where ideas are exchanged, discussions and learning occurs, and people connect to new people).
Others include Meetup.com, which focuses on connecting people with similar interests so they can interact in real life.
Surprisingly I am more social on Steam than any of the conventional social networking sites, Steam is a surprisingly effective social network for gamers. Additionally, social games like MMOs or other multiplayer games change the way people interact socially through guilds, alliances, clans, trading, competition, and cooperation.
Generalized social "filing cabinets" like FB, LI, and Twitter serve their purposes and being generalized, they have use for a large population of people, but they don't actually generate or enhance interesting new social dynamics or content (twitter sort of does). Friendships and relationships are difficult to cultivate without specified context. A "filing cabinet" has little context for interaction, but a "social space" can provide context for new interaction and that's where more interesting stuff happens.
This enables your social network app to keep up with your relationships, without you needing to tell it that X is now just an acquaintance and Y is suddenly an important person in your life. In fact, your app might figure those changes out before you do.
Even under the threat of panopticon, these advancements are attractive.
I don't see why a new service has to be created for this, when Facebook already has a tweakable algorithm.
I do not understand how they are comfortable with having what often amounts to quite private conversations out in public. I found I had to unfollow most of them, the constant and mostly irrelevant noise ends up polluting my feed.