Note: this series of posts is adapted from a larger paper on the nature of Friendship I wrote in 2005. Check back later in the week for the subsequent parts.
One of the fundamental concepts in social media is the idea of Friendship: in order to participate in any social network or to utilize any of the social media tools, one needs to have friends. From a purely technical perspective, a friend is simply a connection on an individual's social graph: a similar entity that has been defined as "connected" to the individual.
But that simple connection isn't defined, in any normative sense, by the technical implementation. Users are free to define that connection however they wish. For example, if I wish to define all my friends in a social network to be everyone named "Jeff," there'd be nothing to stop me from doing so. I could go to my friends page and marvel at all the people named "Jeff."
But that's not really what we consider friendship, and one would be hard pressed to find anyone who'd find some substantive use from a social graph like that. So what could we consider real Friendship?
In starting this blog, I had a couple things I wanted to talk about for a long time and get people's reactions. After a couple posts, I'm starting to think about what my long term goals are, what interests me, and what may be of some value to others.
My goal in social media has always been two-fold: to become more knowledgeable about different topics I'd otherwise never learn about, and to share what I know with other people. In figuring out how best to accomplish these two goals, I started to think about a model with which I'm both familiar and comfortable: the college course.
Note: this series of posts is adapted from a larger paper on the nature of Friendship I wrote in 2005. Part 1 discusses the problems with Friendship in digital media. Check back later in the week for the subsequent parts.
Yesterday I mentioned three basic intuitions most people have about what Friendship is:
Friends share interests
Friends share interest in each other
Friendship is stable
Today, I want to start off by talking about some basic intuitions about what Friendship isn't: that is, while keeping our basic understand of Friendship in mind, what circumstances would we consider definitely not a case of Friendship?
Earlier this week, I mentioned I'd be organizing what I write into different serializations, or "tracks:" today I'm going to introduce a track on argumentation. I'll be discussing how to use argumentation to not only your advantage: not necessarily to win arguments, but to find out what the best possible answer is to a problem.
What is an argument?
Most people consider an argument to be two people shouting at each other, getting angrier and angrier as time progresses. I'm going to talk about a different kind of argument: one that I hope would be more palatable to more people.
An argument is a position and a justification for that position. I think scones are the best baked good. I believe this to be true because they're dry but not too dry, you can stick various delicious things in them, and they go well with a hot beverage. That's is an argument. You may have a competing position about the superlative nature of scones: that's fine. You also probably have a good reason for believing so. That's fine also: you have a competing argument.
This is all part of a phenomenon that occurs in the blogosphere on an almost daily basis, and something I call armchair entrepeneuring. Offering feedback is one thing: but the sheer hubris of tech bloggers that they know how to run a company better than the ones actually running it is entirely different. It's never merely "I've used this product, and this is what's good about it, and this is what stinks about it;" it's always "you poor fools, you clearly dropped the ball, and let me show you exactly why." Nevermind that very few of the people have actually been in a startup, executive, entrepenuerial, or product management position: if they don't get it, you're clearly doing it wrong.
But my issue isn't on the credentials of those who lay these charges against entrepenuers, but on how formulaic, and ultimately myopic, they are.
Although the title should make for some excellent Google bait, there were a couple topics today that seem to fit into what I've been discussing for the past couple of days. This morning, there was a lot of discussion on FriendFeed started Robert Scoble about Gabe Rivera's comments on FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit's post on FriendFeed (hope you're still with me). From the post, Rivera said:
Nobody should count out FF. The obvious technical excellence of the team and the very impressive pace of innovation you guys have already demonstrated make that clear. But I think people are alarmed that so many people have tried the site and then abandoned it (or at least that's how it appears). I personally think the way commenting and liking works has created incentives for the wrong kind of behavior, and you might be stuck in a kind of local maximum as far as uptake until you really shake things up. But what do I know? Anyway, good luck, I'll use FF regardless (though I don't comment any more...).
This sparked some interest from Scoble, who asked Rivera to elaborate: Rivera complied, adding "leaving dumb comments will increase the attention you get. Not so on Twitter, where dumb tweets hurt your follower count." Rivera's comments mimic a good portion of things I've heard about FriendFeed (and Twitter, too, but that's not important). What was more interesting to me was the level of vitriol on FriendFeed towards comments like his. Chief among the responses to his comments were attacks against Rivera's service, Techmeme, implying and directly stating its inferiority to FriendFeed. Other responses included explanations of FrendFeed as levity to otherwise (ostensibly?) miserable online existences, or how Rivera doesn't participate therefore he'll never get it.
This was a lot of exposition: it's a very cabal-like discussion and in many ways the exposition should serve to illuminate how little importance the topic has, but I think it's an interesting case study in what not to do when arguing with someone, and here's why.
This weekend, Twitter was the target of an extensive phishing campaign and a shady 3rd-party app that sold all its user data. Thousands of people were affected, and even the celebrities and news organizations were not spared. On FriendFeed, a 3rd-party application was introduced last night that produced unintended results: this week should serve as an indicator that we, as early adopters, need to take off our blinders and realize we need to add some thought before we try things out.
Over the past couple of days, I've been thinking about Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing as it relates to social media, and truth be told, I'm lost. Rather than go into a rant about how the internet's wronged me today, or try to get into a lesson about an abstract concept, I'm going to go through my take on the state of B2B social media marketing and pass it off to you, the reader.