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February 27, 2009

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Janet Asteroff

Funny you should say that. I was just thinking that Facebook and all the social media sites are popular because people are so alienated because the Internet has supplanted much face-to-face contact.

So we use Facebook and Twitter to build exponentially large networks of people we don't know, but who we can now interact with anyway

mebs

Janet, thank you so much for asking!

Hmmmmmm. I think it's true that LinkedIn and other professional networks feel like a bunch of people we don't know. The value of LinkedIn is directly tied to the size of your network, so you have an incentive to link like crazy. With some notable exceptions, LinkedIn doesn't have the feel of a community. More like a "networking event" than happy hour with friends.

In my experience, Facebook is much more filtered (or it can be) and it really does feel kind of like an extended Ning. You can limit how many people can write on your wall, how many people can see you, and that sort of thing. While some people may have the time and patience to keep track of hundreds of other people, I'm not one of them. I keep my Facebook experience to a manageably small level in my online world.

Ditto with Twitter. I follow a fair number of people but I filter them in TweetDeck, so I never feel like I'm drowning in tweets.

I guess what I'm getting at is that the newer generations of social media sites (and the more responsive of the longer-established sites)understand that we want more control. We want to impose all the filters we want, so that it isn't an all-or-nothing experience. I may want this group of people to be able to see this portion of my profile, and that group of people to see more, and this other group to be able to write on my wall.

To put it another way, the newer gen of social media better emulates the real world, where we have various levels and kinds of friends, some of whom we share more with than others.

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