Having watched the rise and fall of SixDegrees, Friendster, and the many other proto-hominids that make up the evolutionary chain leading to Facebook, MySpace, et al, I'm inclined to think that these systems are subject to a Brook's-law parallel: "Adding more users to a social network increases the probability that it will put you in an awkward social circumstance."How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook -- Facebook -- InformationWeek
A good article by Cory Doctorow about one of the issues facing "social networks". On a very-related note, the upcoming Xbox 360 Fall Update adds additional creepiness to Live by letting friends browse your friends list. I'm increasingly on the fence about Live's creep factor. Sometimes I just want to play a game, and not be available for chats with old co-workers or friends, or worse yet a current co-worker who has some question about something. And it's always telling me that friend X is logged on (likely just to watch a video), or recently that somebody's toddler daughter is just playing with the power button. And yes, you can be on Live and not appear logged on - but I'm contemplating making that my default stance. I don't run my IM client when I'm playing World of Warcraft, why would I do so when playing Assassin's Creed? And the first time somebody I don't really like sends me a friends request because we both know somebody on XBL I'm going to be seriously annoyed. It is possible to opt out of the "Friends of Friends" feature and quite honestly I encourage people to do so. I made the decision to publicize my GamerTag on this blog, but Microsoft has no right to decide to publicize my GamerTag for me. "Friends of Friends" defaults to on, and I don't think it should.
I've wished before that XBL had a feature for "introductions" - some way to say "Oh yeah, lemme give you Bob's GamerTag" other than just spelling it out over a chat. (It's more convenient if Bob is online to invite everyone into a quick Arcade game, but that's still a bit obtrusive), but that's not the same as saying "Here, freely browse through my friends list and see if you want to hassle anybody I know." If somebody asks me for somebody else's email address/GamerTag/phone number/address/AIM handle I always check with the third party first. Once I know that Bob wants me to pass on his GamerTag I'd like for XBL to make that automatic, but it needs to be a specific door I open when I choose to do so, not something that is always available for all my friends. I don't feel I have permission to publish all my friend's GamerTags, but apparently Microsoft thinks I do.
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