Friends, fans, followers … lend me your clicks

Recently the issue of digital identities has been invading my consciousness  – not so much what do we mean by an online friend, but how do we acquire or stumble into different groups of people online – so I thought that I’d do an inventory of the various Web 2.0 sites and the groups that have coalesced round me.

Facebook – possibly my least favourite Web 2.0 app – I can’t say that I have ever had a period when I was really into it – the creeping agglomeration of personal information about me and the very closed walls somehow discourage me from doing any social networking there – however the reality is that it is the big beast on the block, the friends are all people that I know and there are people there, who I’m not in contact with any other way.

Twitter – possibly my favourite Web 2.0 app – it has disarmed me into sending message to complete strangers – or at least those that choose to follow me first – even the term – follower – is light-touch and non-threatening – in the beginning I weeded out people I did not know, whereas now only an easy to spot spammer or marketeer will get blocked – I only know 20% of my followers in real life, but I’ve interacted online with a much higher proportion of them thanks to Twitter.

Delicious – there was quite a long time when I did not even realise that there were networking features on Delicious! But I eventually discovered my network and the fact that I had fans! A lovely phrase and a complement in that these people seem to think that what I’m bookmarking is worth watching – while I know about half my network there, the fact that strangers like what I come across, makes me feel good.

Flickr – there’s a real point to Flickr – I’ve just collected people if I like their photos, and some of them have reciprocated, though many were already known to me and the social side of just wanting to keep up with what people are doing – in photo form – is what has pulled me in – not very far, but the pictures give you an instant hit and a clearer idea of what people are doing.

So what do all these different groups mean? There’s nowhere the groups match exactly, so there are different people for different sites – despite the recent attempts to start bringing these groups together – with one Web 2.0 service talking to another – that should come as no surprise, we go down a pub with a different group of people we might go out to the cinema with or out clubbing or even social bookmarking.

Ideally a Web 2.0 site with social networking facility should have the low bar and friendliness of interaction of Twitter, the actual sense of doing something you get with Flickr, the surprise of fan-dom of Delicious and the comprehensive pool of people of Facebook – too much to ask? Probably!

Perhaps my view will change once I get round to reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody