Monday, October 1, 2007

Friends, "friends", and friends of friends

Facebook announced (by announced, I mean that it popped up on the company blog as a feature in development and the internets pounced on it) this week that they are going to allow grouping of friends. This has been a much-requested feature from people experiencing a little-too-close-for-comfort malaise about the fact that their work and personal lives are intermingling a little too closely.

I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, it's a good idea. I know of a few people that have told me they've stayed away from Facebook, or use it in a far more limited way, because of this issue. The short version being "I don't need some buddy from high school posting pix of me hurling up a keg of beer on the same page that my clients watch".

On the other hand, I see two major problems with this:

I wonder whether segregation of communities will place a damper on the viral nature of what has made FB such a great application platform. (In some eyes, this may be a good thing).

More significantly, I think they are missing the mark. I think that filtering what feeds go to which friends is sort of a hack for what people really are asking for - in a "that's what I asked for but it's not what I meant I wanted" kind of way...

I think what people really want is the ability to have multiple personas for their single facebook identity. The digital equivalent of "they way I behave at work is not the same as when I am with family nor the same as when I am out at the game with my buddies".

Until someone embraces the personas idea, the rest is just a hack.

4 comments:

Ben said...

I think multiple personas sounds too much like the old style of categorising everything into several exclusive boxes, whereas the filters sounds more like the general trend towards tagging that allows overlapping sets. The latter is far more useful to me than the former.

Jurie said...

Hmmm... I am not saying I disagree, but I kind of interpreted this feature literally. It allows you to group your friends, only you can see this, it is essentially meaningless (socially speaking). When your friend list grows to a certain size, you need tools to deal with them.

I can see what you're saying about the multiple personae, but I don't know if an interface/architectural change would solve that. I expect people to just create different personae (on different services), and for society to deal with it. (If your potential new employer checks your FB account, why wouldn't you check the accounts of managers / HR?)

Jurie said...

(... why do I bother entering my site's URL if it doesn't show up?)

Jurie said...

(OMG Blogger can't deal with http-less URLs! laaaaaaame :P)