“Density” which, when applied to social networks means “how many of my friends and family consider each other friends and family?” Greater Density has some definite benefits (if something goes wrong, any given person knows how to call in the cavalry to help, and they can better coordinate to supply any needs). It can also have some social cost, most commonly known as the gossip tree (is nobody’s business sacred?)
But I’ve been thinking about this in terms of social networking. What is ideal? Do you WANT all your contacts to know each other? Are we one big happy family? Or does this lead to all of us, like lemmings, pouncing on the same stuff, and nobody having access to completely separate, new ideas and resources?
Apply all this to Facebook (just to see if we learn anything)
Now I found a few ‘early adopters’ among my high school classmates… and those added at a trickle (oops, am I really naked in front of these people? They actually KNOW me?) but the early adopters, by definition, are an open-minded bunch… Marie… Burt… not worried about being judged--they are grooviness personified…
But then there was the Class Revolution… I’m talking here about the SWARMS of people from high school that seemed to all join together, or near the same time, and suddenly, I was totally outed. Not only THAT, though, I had two distinct, large groups of friends… no overlap whatsoever with each other, but almost full overlap within… I was the single common denominator. (freaky)… Add college… I went out of state to college (moved from Idaho to Oregon), so one or two of my college friends met one or two of my high school friends, but the overlap is VERY small and weak—I’m not sure if on FB any of them have friended each other. And then there are the smaller groups… my family, the other close friends or families of friends… one or two of my friends are friends with my family and vice versa because they were all AROUND together, but the overlap is slim. Add my friends from former jobs… two from advertising, six or so from McMenamins… and (eek gad) a few people from Ann Arbor (now THAT is scary—people I see from time to time in real life watching my insanity online).
So it isn’t a uniform blanket—it is more like a bunch of sewn together pillows (and me the only thread—isn’t that a song?)… But you know what—there are different groups that I would go to for different reasons. Class reunion—one set—NaNoWriMo—different set—USC Trojans DESERVED their tromping a la Duck—different set.
Now apply this to the Social Networking System
My writer profile network is majorly dense, nearly 800 people, only about 80 or so from my 'real' friends (or personal profile). I have ‘friends’ who share 600 ‘friends’ with me… one of us shares a link from another, and pretty soon we have a wonky clogged news feed because the same link has been shared 85 times.
In that particular set, there is an agent… my starting point, possibly as many as half dozen, but few, by comparison to the number of writers. But I also have friended two OTHER agents who just amused me when I was agent searching… THOSE people only have maybe a half dozen common friends with me, even though they have 400 friends apiece… do you see where I’m going? (erm... no?)
It’s those people with few common friends who we all need to carefully watch and bring THEIR news to the larger group. It’s important not to get complacent (as I’ve been) and just add all the ‘suggested friends’ because you have 346 friends in common. We also need to be searching out NEW blood to bring into the fold… because largely it seems the network density has benefits, but also has the limitation of being limiting (courtesy of the Department of Redundancy Department). Seriously though... in a way, it is bound.
So I’m charging ya’ll (even though I’m not southern) with FINDING someone interesting and bringing them into the fold this week!
HA! You didn’t know you’d get homework, did you?
NaNoNews: on 8586 words… WAHOO!