An Elite Circle of Friends

November 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm (internet, odds) (, , , , , , , , )

Now this is an intriguing idea – from a post on failblog – run your Facebook account with a strict friends limit, say of 10.  Then when a new friend request comes in, only accept it if you are willing to delete one of your existing friends …

Well, according to Dunbar’s number, we can only cope with social groupings of 150 or less anyway – and massive Facebook friends lists don’t change that no matter how many people shout to have more than 5000 listed on the site.  In fact, what is a friend anyway on such sites?

In fact, there are social networks that limit your number of contacts – Path does in fact limit you to 150.  But if that is still too many, at the other extreme is Pair – the social networking tool to share and communicate with just one other person.

I wonder if you could combine the ideas of chatroulette (“Broadcasting nudity or suggestive content is not allowed” – yeah right) and facebook and create a friendroulette service – a social network where you always have, say, 20 friends total but every day a new friend is added and one is taken away.

Maybe it could be limited to certain common interests, or maybe just completely random (although probably assuming you speak the same language otherwise it might be a bit pointless).

Or how about a musical chairs social network?  Start with 100 friends, but everyday one drops off the list?  Maybe you get the option to keep the winner as a permanent contact?

Or maybe a network where you are only allowed to add a new friend if someone else has added you and if someone unfriends you, it randomly drops someone from your own list too.

Or possibly a network where you had to earn friendship – it would automatically add you once your paths have crossed a few times and you really have a connection and something to share with each other.  And if you stop talking to each other, the connection fades until its gone completely (a bit like an ant trail).

Geo-fenced social network?  Your list of friends only consists of those who have been in the same physical location that you are now in during a set time period – maybe the last week.  As you move around, the list of people changes creating a link across time to the same space.

Would be one way to beat the Filter Bubble at any rate and introduce a little serendipity back into meeting people.



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Crowdsourced personal data coming to a profile near you

May 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm (computers, internet, security) (, , , , , , )

I’ve slowly been (finally) getting to grips with the Facebook friends lists feature and have been noticing some interesting side effects of using it.

First of all, I finally know how to get Facebook to stop censoring my newsfeed.  You add people to your “close friends” list, then you get every gory detail.

So next – do I want my lists to be cumulative or exclusive?  Do I want close friends to appear in acquaintances as well?  I opted for exclusive – if they are on one, then I won’t put them on the other.

Restricted friends – i.e. those friends you want to list (for whatever reason, friends hardly ever means “friends” on Facebook) that by default, you are happy to not see what you get up to.  A smart move by Facebook as by giving this built-in censoring people will be happy to divulge more to the social network “safe” in the knowledge that their boss, parent or otherwise “don’t want to unfriend but don’t want to broadcast to” contact won’t see it.

The “smart lists” are interesting too – grouping those to have openly admitted to going to the same school, working at the same company or otherwise are members of something that is shared with you.  But I notice that Facebook still offers up the rest of your friends as suggestions for adding to these lists too.

So, if I haven’t volunteered a piece of information – say which school I went to – but a number of my friends have, then it would be natural for them, if using the school smart list, to “add” me to their list for their school.  The upshot is that even if I didn’t want to tell Facebook what school I went to, they don’t need me to anymore.  The chances are that at least one of my friends will have put me in their “school” smart list.

This is like other people tagging me in photos but without me being able to opt out.

Crowdsourced personal tagging.  Nice one Facebook – you seemed to have snuck that one in on us all and managed to align the incentives so that people will do it because its useful to them.  Clever.

What’s next I wonder – smart lists for interests, sexual orientation, age, location?  Oh yes, they already do that one – anyone I’m friends with can now tag me as a “local” friend and tell Facebook where I am whether I wanted to tell them or not.

Ok, so how about a generic framework for me to create my own list, add a set of people and then use the Facebook “like” system to categorise it in a way that is meaningful to me – with the side effect of telling Facebook everyone who (in my opinion) likes banana ice-cream, whilst building lego models at Justin Bieber gigs  (or whatever criteria I’ve chosen to use).

And of course you’ll have no idea of how others have classified you.  And you’ll have no option to refute it.  I wonder how long it will be before there is a healthy third-party marketing business to work the system.  How about a company paying people a penny to classify their friends with an interest in their product, so that ads for it float to the top of their Facebook page?  You can already run “campaigns” to get more likes, visits, page views and so on (the scary one is paying $0.13 to “create a gmail account for me” … no prizes for guessing what that might be trying to circumvent …).

Getting your friends to “out you” on Facebook.  Creepy yet?  Oh yes.  Good job that is a long way into the future … ahem, well actually, maybe it isn’t.

And of course, just deciding not to be part of this is probably non longer an option.  Even if you’re not on Facebook, it probably doesn’t need you to be anymore – your friends can tell it all it needs to know.  Just imagine the advertising opportunities for Facebook that already exist from sending emails to those not yet on Facebook based on what their friends have already volunteered about them.



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