The Social Network Paradox

 

http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/28/the-social-network-paradox/ 

I thought this was a fascinating article about the implications of  us growing larger and larger networks on tools like Facebook and Tweeter. In this article a blogger named Nina Khosla talks about the disconnectedness between us and our core groups of friends as a result of us friending and liking more and more people and companies as we expand our social networks. I must admit I have found myself having to schedule lunch and dinner dates with friends (Something I should probably be doing anyways) in an attempt to keep up with the things happening in their lives as well as to communicate the happenings occurring in mine. Once a user acquires more than 500 friends or followers on Facebook and Twitter a shift occurs that transforms our interaction from dialogue to soundbites. We tend to share top of the brain experiences, trending news responses, birthday best wishes, and pictures from the latest event we attended.

I don’t mean to take away from the all the positive aspects of these tools; how else would a stay connected to my cousin who is currently wrapping up medical school in Taiwan if it weren’t for Facebook, however I must agree that there is a lack of depth produced by the continued expansion of our social networks. Google+ tried to address this by creating ‘circles’ a tool I adore, however it created a new problem which is the fact that I know feel the need to create content to communicate to each of my circles in an effort to engage each of my circles equally, a process quickly becomes very time-consuming.  

Nina comments:

“Therein lies the paradox of the social network that no one wants to admit: as the size of the network increases, our ability to be social decreases.

Like anything else, networks and the information flowing through them follow the laws of supply and demand. As the number of bits, photos and links coming over these networks grew, each of those invisibly began to decrease in worth.”

Nina argues for communities by stating the following:

“we need to create products that encourage discussion, experiences, and lasting, meaningful relationships. These are the things that create real benefits for users and the products that inspire them. And thus, the future of the social web is no longer on a network, it’s within communities.”

While I would agree that communities provide for more interaction because they clearly parcel a group of individuals for deeper and more engaged interactions, I don’t think she accounts for the increase in time allocation that such an alternative creates. At the end of the day her article is an endorsement of Google+’s circles without mentioning the platform by name. Maybe segmenting our friends by community is the answer, we may find out if Google plus survives and becomes widely adopted or if Facebook chooses to replicate the circles functionality, sound-off below if you have any thoughts on the matter.

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