Two social network opportunities for learning.

1. Last Thursday (30 August) I was fooled into opening my gmail contact list to Quechup [no link love for them here], a social networking service to which I received an invite from a trusted contact. This was an error on my part. I should have looked the site over more carefully before jumping in. OK Bill, let's see that that lesson gets learned.

But it was just the previous week that I was involved in online and offline conversations about how much trouble it is for folks to move from one social network to another, or to be in several at once. One solution floated for this problem was to provide an automatic way to carry my contacts around and drop them into whatever network was current or popular or ....

Well Quechup just showed us what it might be like to have computer programs do the deciding about whom to invite and how. I don't know about you, but it didn't go well for me. Even though there is overhead involved when I join different social networks I still want the control on whom to invite and when and maybe even how. Maybe I'll talk with you in person before sending an invite. Maybe I'll send you a very personal e-mail.

2. Howard Rheingold blogged about Facebook friend invite spam, and he's not sanguine about the outcome. I'd like to disagree but the evidence is on Howard's side for now.

How many times will we have to learn that even more than being able to contact and be in touch with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, people want control of their relationships and their boundaries?

Given all the analysis and reflection on the social nature of society that has permeated the blogosphere in the past five years I'm worried that without some sincere and determined effort on our parts, the social technologies we build and deploy are going to make it harder, not easier, to be authentic, interactive, and civilized online.

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