Tuesday, December 17, 2002

These Links Were Made for Breaking? VIII
Nick Denton recently gave props to Friendster, a new Ryze-like online networking service. On its face, Friendster seems to build on the legacy of ye olde Six Degrees, but I'm slightly frustrated.

One of the biggest opportunities for building social capital is the happenstance connection, the serendipitous introduction, the random interaction. And it seems that Friendster has built in the Web of trust concept to such an extent that you can only find, view the profiles of, and connect with people you already know -- or people they know.

This is perhaps a conscious design element, but because the service is in beta mode -- when you sign up, use the codeword "coke" -- I'm not sold on the concept. While I realize people appreciate the option of determining who can contact them and how -- think Net Deva -- I'm the kind of guy who'd appreciate an "open to anyone" option. (I've requested that Denton add me as a friend. We don't know each other, but we'll see whether blind contacts of existing members has any promise.)

As things are right now, I can either invite scads of people I already know to join the underpopulated service... or wallow in a state of blissful isolation. At least Joe's my friend. But I don't need Friendster to connect with Joe. Friendster, on the other hand, needs Joe and me.

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