I try and read every comment made on this blog, I try and follow up every time someone links to me. I want to know what readers are saying about the things I write about. That’s how I learn, through the agreements, the criticisms, the recommendations, the observations.
Recently I noticed that Ian Delaney had linked to me,Â commenting on something I’d written a week ago, and there was a phrase he used that I quite liked. The action’s in the actions. And that made me think, it made me crystallise something I’d been thinking about for quite a while. So here goes.
There’s been a lot said and written about social networking sites, so much so that there must be an entire branch of study focused on that subject alone. I don’t pretend to understand all of it.
What I do understand is this. There is something social about sharing news.Â That’s what friends do. How are you? What are you doing? How have you been? Did you enjoy your holiday? Are your children well? When was the last time you saw her? If you see her, say hello.
Sure, friends do many other things. They share many other things. But one of the things that friends do is share news.
What I do understand is this. There is something social about sharing experiences. That’s what friends do. What did you think of that film? I hated their new album. Love your new car, how does it drive? Read any good books lately? Would you recommend Morocco as a holiday destination? How was that restaurant?
Sure, friends do many other things. They share many other things. But one of the things that friends do is share experiences.
Sharing news and experiences. That’s what friends do. When I worked in investment banking, I was fascinated by what people did, for example, on Bloomberg. They shared experiences. They shared news. And they shared something else, they could see transactions. They could see prices. They could see the market. Other people’s transactions, other people’s prices.
What is important about the Bloomberg example is that everyone knew. You knew that you could see others’ prices and transactions, others knew that you could see theirs, you knew that others could see yours.
What is as important is that Bloomberg represented a community, with trust and with rules. Rules that governed relationships. And communications. Simple rules, but rules nevertheless.
Every community is built on trust. When you share news and experiences, you do so in an environment of trust. Trust in the relationship, and in the communications that make that relationship come alive. That’s what Cluetrain was about.
Ratings, recommendations and collaborative filtering have all been around for a very long time. Even in their electronic form.
Transparency. Openness. “Perfect information”. “Collaborative filtering”. Ratings and recommendations. So much we can do when we share. As long as we know who we’re sharing with, and what we’re sharing. As long as we share by choice rather than because we have to.
This is why I watch all the debates about “privacy” with interest, sometimes with alarm. Man is a social animal. Let’s keep it that way.