As the guy who wrote one of the first open-source status update systems in 2007, the main developer behind Acquia Commons social business software 2.x, and an evangelist of social communications technologies, writing the title of this post feels strange. I've spent the last 5 years of my life building software to make it easy for people to build social networks, so why would I suggest that sometimes you shouldn't do it?
I brought up something in my last post about friend/follow relationships that I think deserves more attention than I gave it: the social graph -- as it is currently constructed at least, where all relationships are equal and mean the same thing -- is not the same thing as an interest graph. The implication is that using a standard unweighted relationship network to predict what content should show up in my activity stream will result in me seeing a lot of content that I'm not really interested in. That's inconvenient at best. As Hunter Walk so charmingly put it, "I like you, but not everything about you."
Facebook hasn't switched everyone to the new Timeline profiles yet, but they will soon.
Facebook made a few significant changes that became visible to most users starting last night.
- Restructured activity stream - you can now choose exactly who you want to see in your activity stream and what kinds of activity you want to see from them, as well as how much you want them to show up.
- Subscriptions - you can subscribe to people you're not friends with, so you can follow thought leaders like on on Twitter without having to actually have a mutual friendship. This also makes your stream more interesting.