sponsor: sevitzdotcom uses vzaar for all his video needs

Whilst I'm on about Facebook, I just commented this over on Bobbies site. However I have been meaning to blog on this for ages, so I'm cross posting it here.

Bobbie: But the real problem isn’t that these people aren’t my friends; it’s that I actually have many different flavours of friend, but online services only use the crudest methods to determine a relationship between two people.

This really sums it up for me.

Facebook (for example) basically assigns the same value to everyone I know. However as Bobbie says, not all friends are created equal. I want to be able to tage, flag, group or whatnot people. Which should roughly reflect how I view people in general (or offline if you will)

Facebook can then adjust to reflect these different groups and how much data I want pushed at me from the groups or how interested I am in the groups. Even in the groups it would be interesting to see FB using the attention data of who I communicate with more.

So an example grouping for me could be, in descending order of value

  1. Close Friends
  2. Friends
  3. Friends of Friends
  4. Acquaintances
  5. People I once knew (school, work)
  6. Groups/Bots/Not Real people
  7. My exgirlfriend, her new husband and their wedding pictures

Then instead of getting updates from people I knew once a long time ago and really am not all that bothered by what they had for lunch I can have my updates more focused on the people I care about more. As the number of friends and connections increases, managing this is vital to the social networks.

The good social networks will find ways to manage this easily and without much effort. The poorer ones will want to much data input.

And this applies to all social networks, and Twitter and LinkedIn especially could benefit from this. So could Flickr. Facebook just makes it easier to see how the value of the connections is so important as in real life interactions we can see the same connections directly.

A "smart relationships" interface like Apples smart playlists would be interesting.

Then I can have a people group set as "Girls, flagged with 'I like', currently in a relationship, notify me on relationship status change"


26 Jun, '07 4:45 PM

1. graybo

Well, yes, but. If people can see how you rate them (from “close friends” down to “annoying bloke in the pub”), don’t you think it could become a little invidious? For example, I might not be bothered too much if you rated me as “some bloke who occasionally rambles on in my comment box”, but someone who considers you a buddy might get the hump if you gave them the same rating.

So giving relationships ratings is a good idea - but I don’t think it would be wise to disclose it to the reader.

26 Jun, '07 4:56 PM

2. Adrian

Oh I totally agree.

For example, allowing girls to see that I have rated them as “wait till they break up and then flirt shamelessly” might be counter productive. And I doubt their current partners might be impressed, although I do make it easier for them to find me and pound me.

I think this should definitely be a masked thing. Although it would be a bit obvious for some people in how they react to you. A bit like the limited profile thing now, it’s not explicit who sets it, but you can tell when you can’t see all the details about someone that they probably have.

Of course it will change the whole mix, as people essentially add friends and then set them to “bottom of the dung heap”

26 Jun, '07 5:15 PM

3. cian

Facebook definitely needs groups for ‘friends’.

My groups would be:

  1. Actual day to day friends
  2. Work colleagues
  3. Linkedin type work people ‘business cards’
  4. Old School friends
  5. Hotties to stalk

For each I’d want a different level of info they see of me and that I get from them.

I don’t really care about some guy I went to school with in 1982 and what’s he’s having for tea and I don’t want some senior bod in the US seeing pics of my naked ass.

I know facebook has the ‘I want to hear less from this people’ list but even though I blacklisted you - I still get your 100 status updates a day in my news feed. ;) joke

27 Jun, '07 10:22 AM

4. Lyle

I actually did this on the SNS that I wrote for the company you’re now working with - we had about eight different groupings of friends, and also one called ‘enemies’ (which was perceived as slightly negative, but there we go) where you could say, effectively, “I never want to hear anything from/about this person”, which was fun.

It’s not that difficult to write and implement, either. Definitely made things a lot more interesting and useful, though.

28 Jun, '07 3:54 AM

5. Destructor

Then I can have a people group set as “Girls, flagged with ‘I like’, currently in a relationship, notify me on relationship status change”

Wouldn’t that group just be called ‘girls’?

03 Jul, '07 11:44 AM

6. ella

i thought you could tag friends on facebook at different levels….

03 Jul, '07 11:52 AM

7. Adrian

No you can just say how you know them, and I think filter what different people can see of your profile on a binary level. (i.e. either they can see everything, or limited)

03 Jul, '07 1:30 PM

8. ella

i just checked and you can limit how much of their crap comes up on your “home” page… i.e. choose up 20 people you really cant be arse dealing with and cut ‘em off without them knowing that you aren’t interested in anything they have to say.

i only wish it was an option for everything.

30 Aug, '07 11:04 AM

9. NakedBiff

Hey Adrian,

You’re absolutely right, and I think the next generation of Social Networks (or next evolutions of existing ones that don’t get stuck in the mud) will represent the differing degrees and flavours of friendship.

The solution we’ve come up with is Open Messaging. (I’ve been commenting a lot about it this morning and I kind of feel like I’m spamming but I’ve just come across a good few articles that are hitting my nail on the head and am particularly excitable!!)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on our thoughts. If you have time, the posts can be found here:


It’s all about context, and moving between different contexts fluidly as in life.


30 Aug, '07 11:43 AM

10. Adrian

Biff, very close to spamming, or at the very least pimping. But your blog seems genuined and I’ll let it stand for the moment.

Although it’s borderline spam, and you really haven’t added much in the way of a comment as much as a I “Look at my site, we do this better”. Which I’m a bit dubious on.

I’ll let this stand, but I think you’re on thin ice and I wouldn’t be surprised if many bloggers too this down.




    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Adrian published on June 26, 2007 4:06 PM.

    Facebook gets it wrong with too much lip gloss was the previous entry in this blog.

    Apples not really after the Blackberry ... yet is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

    unix and linux manuals at manls.com