Teknision: Branded Applications » Adding Friends is a Full Time Job, and I am Tired of It! :

There's a difference between friends and followers. Scoble has a lot of followers[1]. He probably follows rather fewer. And somewhere in the intersection will be a few friends. As someone else said "Friend" has become completely meaningless in the context of SNs.

To transport contacts networks from one SN to another, we need:-

a) A unique identifier. It used to be email but that's as disposable as everything else. Maybe it will be OpenID. But they're proliferating as well. How many OpenIDs do you have?

b) A way of aggregating our lists of contacts across sites, exporting them from one place and importing them somewhere else. FOAF might have been this, but it's flawed. We don't even have much of an agreement about how to describe people in code. The nearest thing to a standard is VCard as exported by Outlook.

c) Multiple SNs to actually play along. Sadly some of the major ones (like Facebook) make it extremely hard to get data out (no, or almost no RSS). And have no API for moving data in.

So don't expect this to happen any time soon.

And don't expect some big shakeout where a clear winner absorbs all the losers. This area is *hot* now. And that attracts VC and Developers. It'll get more fragmented not less.

Meanwhile there's some things you can do to take all your FB, Twitter, Jaiku, Plazes, Pownce, last.FM, Ecademy contact's updates and display them in one place (in Skype!). And if you're really clever, you can update one each day and have all the others synced (well most of them).

A note here about Ecademy. Almost every SN has a process where you add somebody to your friend's list and they get a message saying "Is XXXX your friend Y/N?". At Ecademy we heard a different drummer. People become contacts by talking to each other. They're not a contact until you exchange a message with one in each direction. So being a "Contact" is something that naturally arises out of communication rather than something that you explicitly create. This mostly works until we introduced a status function. At that point, I might well want to follow somebody's Status but not talk to them.

[1]And a note here about Twitter. "Follower" is exactly right. I read the Tweets from people I follow. "Friend" then has some meaning. We both read each other's Tweets. But then they confused it with "Make followers Friends" Which means that I want to follow anyone who follows me. Regardless of who they are or why they're following me.

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[ 10-Jul-07 9:52am ] [ ]