Friday, November 30, 2007

Dunbar’s Number – November 30, 2007

According to Wikipedia, Dunbar's number, which is 150, represents a theoretical maximum number of individuals with whom a set of people can maintain a social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who each person is and how each person relates socially to every other person.

I buy this logic, but not really. My Facebook account has something like 140 friends, my old MySpace page was reaching something around 200, and my LinkedIn page is at 110. I’m not cheating either. I genuinely knew everyone that I became a friend or professional associate with. I also feel that I do have a pretty good understanding of how my friends know each other too! Most importantly though, these numbers are only a small representation of the amount of people that I actually know...I just happened to create public relationships with them online.

I don’t buy Dunbar’s argument that a person can only have 150 functioning relationships. My cell phone contact list is somewhere in the 300s. However, what I do agree with is that there is a reasonable amount of friendships and relationships an individual can have. This means that all those Facebook and LinkedIn pages with “friends” in the 1,000s is bogus.

I think the downfall of MySpace was the fact it turned into a popularity contest, not a true networking tool. It also turned itself into the most whored out online billboard ever. (note to self: get rid of MySpace page), and an easily hackable interface. Facebook is in quick pursuit. Can someone please stop adding all those worthless applications please?

The point of the post is that I feel people want/crave/need to create online social networks, but they are tired of having to bounce from site to site and recreate all the connections with friends, family, and colleagues. I think Facebook has a chance to save itself, but for how long? Zuckerberg wants to monetize the business, but will it come at a cost to the users? My guess…yes. So what’s the next social networking site going to be, or is social networking going to be renamed something else?

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