Giles Bowkett’s Never Hate. Only Destroy. (disclosure: contains language your local third graders probably use and your work filter might block as inappropriate) contains a side point which crystallized something I’ve pondered for several weeks:
The whole point of the Cory Doctorow Problem is that the fundamental assumption with Internet celebrities - that a very smart person will always be interesting - is false…. What irritates me is essentially a search failure; I can seek excellent insight on social software and end up reading pointless trivia about a corporate amusement park filled with plastic birds on plastic trees.
This is my problem with current social networks as well. Your information is either public or it’s not. You’re either connected to someone or you’re not. There’s little to no sense of context.
There may be very good reasons for me to connect with my co-workers on a social network. There’s value in expressing the context of my work. I may also connect with personal friends and even relatives — my brother’s written a couple of pieces for books I’ve edited, and a couple of close friends have written articles and other items for me.
You can start to see the problem.
It gets worse though. I’m closer to some of my co-workers than others. While it might be appropriate to talk about my weekend plans with some of them, others don’t care.
What might be appropriate to discuss with my family might not be something I want to share with even my closest friends — but then again, certain family issues might be information that my employer needs to know (filtered appropriately).
I’m sure I’m not the only person with multiple e-mail addresses and more than one journal.
Whuffie has the same problem. I might be authoritative on the design and implementation and goals of Perl 6 and Parrot, and I might be reasonably accurate on the design and implementation and goals of Smalltalk, but you oughtn’t listen to me about the design and implementation and goals of the Z-Machine or GHC or Boost. Similarly, you may love (or hate) when I talk about software freedom and love (or hate) when I talk about software development in general.
The one-bit marker of is $x my friend or do you trust $y is too small to encode all of the contextual information that we process naturally when we’re filtering information in contexts — and we’ll suffer privacy problems with social networking until the software and policies around sharing information catch up.