Your network is your filter and Facebook invite spam

By June 26, 2007 4 Comments

Fred Wilson recently posted about The Facebook Problem:

Invite overload and application noise. I cannot keep track of all the
invites I am getting, both the standard invites and the application
invites. And what’s worse, I can’t keep track of all the applications
that all of my friends are using.

I get that – I am suffering a bit too. The signal to noise ratio is getting out of whack. As a result a lot of people are saying that they would rather see a return to the old, simpler, cleaner Facebook.

I’m not so sure that is the right answer.

Noise is good. It contains information. The problem is that the tools Facebook provides to manage it are a bit primitive. My vision of where this all goes is that hoary old chestnut “your network is your filter”. For that to work my network has to be generating a lot of noise. I just need tools that let me tune into the stuff that interests me and tune out the rest.

For example – I might only want favourite film updates only from my film buff friends, status updates only from close friends and colleagues I am working with a lot right now, application invites only from my geek mates etc. etc.

Facebook has taken the first steps towards this. They have implemented sliders which allow you to ratchet up or down the amount of chatter you see across different categories like events, groups, friends, wall posts etc. and they also have the facility to nominate up to 20 people you want to hear more noise from and 20 you want to hear less noise from.

Unfortunately these tools are too crude. Ideally you need to be able to say for each friend how much noise you want to hear across a range of different topics. You will also want to be able to easily change these settings. This is just a question of iterating the application though and if I am right about this and the Facebook guys are smart (which they are, very) then they will get there.

Interestingly Microsoft have shown they grasp this concept more clearly than anyone else (at least that I have seen). Shame they are struggling to build social networking services that people want to use.

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