Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Social (Public) or Personal?

This topic is inspired by several discussions over social and professional networks and the birth of 'Path', a social network that restricts the number of friends to a mere 50.

Firstly, I am often asked the question - 'Should I add colleagues on Facebook?'. This question resonates the very basic question of privacy in using these social networking websites. A very interesting observation was made by professor Robin Dunbar of Oxford, that we may have many (>=500) 'Friends' on Facebook, but we are capable of maintaining only 150 "meaningful relationships". This means that we have many people on our social networks, with whom we hesitate to share very persoanl and private information.

Now to answer the question that I am very frequently asked - I use two Twitter accounts. I use one for communicating trends with professional followers/following and the other for communicating personal updates with close friends and family. Similarly, I keep Facebook strictly personal and do not add colleagues as I might share a little too much than I want my colleagues and bosses to find out!! Like Twitter, many people maintain two separate accounts for Facebook as well - this is a step too much for me - but people do, and people who have the strength and energy to maintain multiple websites can very well do so. LinkedIn, by its very nature is for professional networks, and I keep it that way.

This leads on to the other thing I mentioned in the opening sentence of this blog - the birth of 'Path'. We have many 'friends' on facebook and we do not wish to share everything with everyone. Path is very much inspired by this and Professor Dunbar's research findings. It is a social networking website that restricts the maximum number of friends to 50. This means we would be careful in selecting the close 50, with whom we can share personal information without any qualms!

The whole point of this blog was to reflect on how 'social' has started to mean 'public' and slowly, new application slike 'Path' are trying to break the publicness of being social and make it more personal.

Please leave your comments on how you feel about sharing information on social networking websites.

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