Social networks and degrees of evilness

Sometimes two posts just collide in my brain.

I thought I'd share a recent case of this phenomenon.

First up, marketing/PR/social media Rock Star Mitch Joel on taking the best advantage of the inherent evilness of social networks like Twitter in The New Media Pecking Order.

Newsflash: the world is one big pecking order.

My friend - the rock star - travels infrequently by plane. I'm a loyal customer of the airline. It doesn't seem fair and it doesn't make sense. C'est la vie. Klout, PeerIndex, Twitter Grader and others simply bring to light something we've all known for a very long time: it's always been about the numbers and who we all - individually - influence... now we're just starting to see where we all sit. Pushing this further, if everyone has their own media channel (because of our own, individual Twitter feeds, Facebook friends, personal Blogs, etc...) that are published for the world to see, why shouldn't they be subject to the same public rating systems and reviews that traditional media channels have to endure?

It's quite an interesting post. The comments are equally interesting as some wholeheartedly agree with the high school model and others are more skeptical both about the validity of the tools used to measure "influence" and the desirability of the whole project of measuring online influence.

There are also some interesting parallels with the kinds of impact measurements used in the world of scholarly communications -- citations, impact factors and all the rest. But that might be a completely separate post.

The other piece that collided in my brain is Scott Rosenberg's Circles: Facebook's reality failure is Google+'s opportunity. It's about the coming clash of titans in the social networking world, the "Don't Be Evil" gang at Google versus the "Let's Be as Evil as Possible before anyone Notices" gang at Facebook.

I like the way Rosenberg frames what Google is trying to do:

So which was Facebook: a new space for authentic communication between real people -- or a new arena for self-promotion?

I could probably have handled this existential dilemma. And I know it's one that a lot of people simply don't care about. It bugged me, but it was the other Facebook problem that made me not want to use the service at all.

Facebook flattens our social relationships into one undifferentiated blob. It's almost impossible to organize friends into discrete groups like "family" and "work" and "school friends" and so forth. Facebook's just not built that way.


Of the technology giants, Google -- despite its missteps -- has the best record of helping build and expand the Web in useful ways. It's full of brilliant engineers who have had a very hard time figuring out how to transfer their expertise from the realm of code to the world of human interaction. But it's learning.

So I'll embrace the open-source, distributed, nobody-owns-it social network when it arrives, as it inevitably will, whether we get it from the likes of Diaspora and or somebody else. In the meantime, Google+ is looking pretty good. (Except for that awful punctuation-mark-laden name.)

A great post, definitely worth reading the whole thing. I have to admit that initially I wasn't the least bit interested in Google+ but now I'm intrigued.

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