No man is an Island

I think it’s funny how things always come back around. Maybe it’s good karma, maybe it’s the circular beauty of life. Maybe i’m just lucky!

Today I had a great talk with an old friend Jim Lanahan. Jim was the first inspiration, visionary, motivator, helper for Erick and I to dream further than we had ever thought. He was the first person to encourage us to take things to the next level. It was nice to catch up with Jim and hear how well he was doing and to hear equally inspiring words, from someone who has been down similar paths before… almost a year later.

No man is an island.

Reading what Jyri Engstrom and Russ have to say about Object Oriented Sociality has made me think a bit too. Jyri has posted a great article about what drives people together to connect and to become friends. While Jyri uses “object” I tend to think of it more as “activity”. People love to do things together, humans are social by nature. They group together to get things done. They meet one another based on similar interests, whether that be talking, playing soccer, sharing photos, dining, working, etc. They like to do things together.

When I was interviewing people about sharing pictures back at school last year, they talked a lot about “group sharing”, but the groups were of specific purpose or activity. Some talked of making slideshows for the soccer team others talked about sharing with their burning-man friends. People oriented their groups of friends around things they like to do.

And yes, I think it’s true any site that fails to incorporate this in the model of social networking will probubly fail. I immediately think of Friendster. When my friends were all actively joining and signing up, I just didn’t really get it. If I wanted to talk to them, I would. How does it inhance our “connection”? How does it help us have fun, share something together, become better at whatever brought us together in the first place? What is it I gain?

Now that they have added blogging, I might be able to see a common interest in those who like to blog or read blogs. But those who don’t may still have little interest in the site. There is little they can do there or help them do what they want to do.

Russ’s analogy of whoever has the most friends wins, makes me think of a pad of paper I had when I was younger. Of course as a teenage girl, I LOVED to talk on the phone. Our family used to take each other’s messages on a pad that said “who ever has the most messages in the end wins”, with a man at a desk drowning in messages. I can easily see how these links to people with nothing to do with them, just pile up, eventually suffocating us.

No man is an island… but I certainly don’t want to drown in a boat load of “connections”, sans meaning, either. “Connection”, sans meaning, isn’t that an oxymoron anyways?


3 thoughts on “No man is an Island

  1. jeff

    I think this kind of deconstruction (and demonization) of social networks (the concept, not the object) is what happens when people look at them with their Friendster glasses on. Look at the classic social network literature, and you’ll see that individuals are connected not by generic “connections” but by strong and weak ties that are grounded in the real world. Trying to explain this by forcing activities, their artifacts and social and cultural values into a box and labeling it as “Object” is just silly. It’s all about ties.

    LinkedIn tries to do just that. but I’m not sure that anyone has figured out how to represent the actual ties that link people together, since everyone has this idea that the networks on such services should be effectively public. the problem with this is that it leaves out the whole part of society that isn’t currently public–leaving us with no value add. It’s totally possible that your best friend’s mistress could help you get a job, but why put that on the internet?

  2. anitamobile

    Hey Jeff.

    Thanks for the thoughts. I think that Jyri was perhaps trying to make it tangible and understandable in a programmatic sense. At least, that was my interpretation. Which I think is probubly perhaps why Russ also gravitated towards it.

    I would love to read more about social ties. I think I understand the concept… but isn’t there something we could link to the inspiration or instantiation of such ties? What sparks them? How do they form?

    I agree with the public bit also. There is much of one’s life they do not want public. Why make them have it?

    Could you suggest some reading literature on these things, since I am not as well versed… but would like to be?



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