Thursday, March 26, 2009

What has happened to us?

In that dynamic field of human behavior we call the Intarnets there has been a lot of change. Our little neighborhood has been no different, we started at Slashdot and took advantage of the prescient social networking there. That went on for a while and we kept growing. There was weirdness, there was pain, there was stupid duplicity, there was clever duplicity, there was love, there was support, there was compassion, there was wisdom.

Then prominent and influential members migrated to Multiply, or at least those that I regard that way, and something more subtle and nuanced developed through the use of multiple media for expression. We rolled like that for a while, then something happened at Facebook and something happened at Twitter that sucked the air out of the room.

Worlds collided, suddenly our little house party came out of the tunnel and into the football stadium of Facebook and Twitter. Suddenly there's someone's sister, someone's parents, someone's ex, some *high school* friends of someone you've only known online (what could be less relevant?). Wow, the sense of organization, exclusivity and shared iconography evaporated, after spending time in our little shared living room we're suddenly at the mall!

Well, the mall is kind of cool, there's a lot of resources here, but who are you with? The friends you came with are being diluted by artificially equivalent connections based either on communities long gone (college, high school) or as conceptual objects (Texas Longhorns, New Yorkers, Democrats). Where is the significance of your close friends, those with whom you share a connection that is beyond description? Shouldn't you be seeing more of their cat pictures and less from that quiet girl you barely remember from high school?

Yes, there's Friend's Lists on Facebook, and I make use of them, but that's so analytical, and it is static--you have to update and modify your lists if you want them to reflect your life. That seems like a silly amount of work, and besides, to whom, exactly, am I providing all that information?

This is the kind of thing you think about at the end of your 12th straight day of work, particularly when this one was 12 solid hours.

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