One thing that happened in 2007 is that we finally saw real value in having lots of friends on online services. Keep in mind that “friends” online aren’t quite like “friends” offline. First of all, they don’t take you to dinner on a Friday night like Rocky did. Second of all, you might never have met them face-to-face. But let’s leave that argument out of it for this post, OK?
The thing is my online “social networking” friends have added a great deal of value to my life. Let’s detail how.
1. On Flickr they bring me great new photos. I’m even using new software from Dave Winer to display their photos on my 60-inch big screen. Hundreds of new photos come every day from my contacts. My Flickr account is here and I am taking new contacts.
2. On Upcoming they bring me tons of new events. I have hundreds of friends on Upcoming and learn about events before anyone else. Turns out that if an Upcoming friend adds an event to their listing then it also shows up every time I visit the Upcoming home page. That’s why my event listing calendar is the best in the business.
3. On Twitter I have more than 6,000 friends (you can add me here). They bring me a constant stream of interesting stuff. Same over on Jaiku and on Pownce (on Pownce they even send me videos and music, among other things because they have a private file sharing system).
4. On Dopplr my friends tell me where they are going on business trips and I can meet up with them. You can follow my business travel on Dopplr here.
5. On Facebook my friends bring me a constant stream of applications (more than 600 waiting for me to try right now), videos, pictures, news, and other things.
6. On Google Reader my friends bring me a constant stream of great blogs and news items (more than 200 were waiting for me since 2:30 a.m. when I went to sleep). Even without you being able to see my friends, they do help me improve my link blog. You can join me on Google Reader at email@example.com.
7. On Yelp my friends bring me great restaurant reviews. I just joined Yelp, so haven’t written any reviews, but I’m here if you wanna follow along.
8. On Plaxo my friends’ stuff is mashed together in the Plaxo Pulse and they keep my rolodex up to date too.
9. On iLike my friends bring me new music.
10. On VodPod my friends bring me new videos. I just started on VodPod, but I’m Scobleizer there.
11. On Mahalo my friends bring me new information and improve searches. I just started feeding items into Mahalo here.
12. Over on Satisfaction my friends help me get customer support.
13. On Seesmic my friends send me video messages. I’m “Scobleizer” on Seesmic, please add me if you’re on that system.
I’m sure I’m missing some great systems that use friends. Are you using any?
But, I’m shocked that the industry hasn’t gone the next step: let me get out of the way as a gatekeeper!
See, I’ve brought together a unique group of friends. I’d love it if you could get to know them. See the events that they are telling me about. See their photos. See their news on Google Reader (although I am still getting tons of duplicates there, hope the Google Reader team fixes that soon). Learn about the restaurants they like, etc etc etc.
But I can’t. The only way I can help you get to know them is to manually share their stuff out. Even then, it’s pretty tough, particularly on sites like Facebook which really doesn’t like having stuff go onto the public web (like videos or photos).
If there’s someone who can solve this, and mashup all the feedback coming to me from my friends into something that looks like a Tumblr page, that’d really rock and be a useful resource for all of us.
Why do some friends’ networks add value? Because of their nicheness. My friends are all geeks. They care about tech. You won’t see quilting events come through my friends pages over on Upcoming. And if I ever saw something like that I’d remove it cause I’m about geeking out, not quilting (although I know a few geeks who are into stuff like that).
The stuff that’s coming to me from my friends is really high quality stuff. I just wish I could share it.
Well, until they allow me to remove myself, I guess I’m a gatekeeper. That makes me sad cause my friends are so cool!
UPDATE: over on Twitter Matt Galligan recommended Lijit, which does some of what I’m asking for here. I’ve signed up for that as well.