This is the third in a series about my decision to move away from using Facebook. On June 4 of this year I wrote “Deprecating Facebook” where opened with:
I have decided to deprecate my use of Facebook . Because my decision is based on a lack of trust of the current leadership I will revisit it every six months or so to see if things have changed sufficiently to warrant a re-evaluation. I deleted about 80% of my connections tonight and don’t plan to add any until a I re-evaluate the service in early 2011.
Social networks are part of the “mission critical infrastructure” for a firm like ours. We had not been actively using Facebook for marketing or networking, for the most part I joined out of curiosity and accepted invites, many of which seemed to be generated by folks dumping their e-mail address books into the system. Something that I have never done on any social network.
Two days later I wrote “Deprecating Facebook Part Two” Where I noted this insight from Anthony Jay:
In “Corporation Man” Anthony Jay suggests that there is a natural limit of 500 for a tribe size based on an analysis of human history. He offers one very powerful rule of thumb that I have come to see the wisdom of: use systems to replace and augment memory, but minimize systems that replace face to face communication.
Social Networks to Social Manifolds
Marcelo Rinesi is now blogging at PhaseLeap where he wrote “From Social Networks to Social Manifolds” back in May but I just came across it and thought he had done a better job of summarizing my misgivings about Facebook than I had:
In fact, contemporary society puts us in contact (regular or irregular, professional or not) with literally thousands of people in dozens of different ways, and neither our brains nor our software are at present capable of successfully dealing with this. Every online social network website attempts, more or less credibly, to become the standard clearinghouse for our social exchanges, but they eventually stumble against the same problem: our social lives don’t take place in orderly networks, but rather in complex manifolds with which we are constantly in contact.
We don’t need computers to manage our network of family and friends; humans have always excelled at this sort of social skills, and, if anything else, the size of our families and immediate circles is smaller now than it used to be. But the size, complexity, and dynamism of the more chaotic “social soup” surrounding this network has grown immensely, and, as anybody trying to cope with an online “friends list” of hundreds will assert, software isn’t quite useful in this regard yet.
Something analogous happened years ago, when the Internet grew so much that Yahoo!’s ongoing efforts to index and order it couldn’t compete with Google’s more successful approach of letting the content of the web itself reshape minute after minute how we interact with it. Every time we tell Facebook something about our social environment, we are trading something we worked hard at gaining (knowledge about a social relationship) for something of very little value (a tool to easily communicate with people we already have dozens of ways to communicate with).
We can handle our social networks just fine. It’s the rest of society we need software to help us with.