Calacanis asks deep questions about social networks

So Jason “no comments” Calacanis answers me, and others, back about his increasing dislike of Facebook and other social networks.

First of all, for the record, Jason is right. Facebook sucks. Twitter sucks. Pownce sucks. Jaiku sucks. Kyte sucks. Etc and etc.

Why? Because they take time.

But then managing my Outlook contact list took time. Managing my business card collection took time. My mom took time to keep a filing cabinet and an address book and a rolodex.

Facebook is the modern day rolodex. It is the replacement for the business card.

First of all, let me attack a claim Jason made that simply is wrong: that it takes 30 minutes a day to add hundreds of new friends into Facebook or other social networks (on big days I’ve actually had hundreds of people wanting into my social network, so I timed it: I can add hundreds in less than five minutes).

Here’s how.

Let’s go to Facebook and look. Gary Chan just asked to be added to my network. I click confirm. Then “skip this step.” Done. Typing this sentence took four times longer. You don’t need to do anything more. You don’t need to explain why you know Gary Chan. Etc. Etc. I never do and I don’t feel guilty about it. If I know people I know why and how I know them and I don’t need to tell you all that. Later on I might add some value to my contact list that way.

So, why do I say it’s my new business card collection? Well, if I am looking for a contact, at, say, Yahoo, I troll through my Facebook collection. Most Yahoo employees leave their phone numbers and email addresses on their Facebook profile. Hint: they work on the iPhone. So, I visit their profile and click on their phone number and I’m instantly connected.

Plus, I know everything about them that they’ve wanted to share.

For instance, Bradley Horowitz, of Yahoo, is on my contact list. By looking at his profile page I know all sorts of stuff about him. His relationship status, his political views, who his friends are, what kind of music he likes, his favorite TV shows, his favorite movies, his favorite books.

He has the Snapvine app, so I can leave a voice mail for him. He tells his friends where he lives (has a Yahoo Map gadget that shows that, of course). Puts all his Flickr photos up. I know his mood. I know what party he’ll be at tonight. I know someone at Microsoft that he’s talking with and who visits his page, so I know some influence networking that I could do with him. I know his college experience and his past work experience.

All voluntarily turned over and when I interview him do you want to bet this stuff comes up? Damn straight it will.

If I go to the party he’s going to tonight (I might, it’s on my calendar too) I’ll have TONS of stuff to talk with him about. Music. Movies. TV shows. Politics. College experience. And other stuff.

Oh, heck, let’s go look at Jason’s Facebook. I see his religious views. Jason has put his mobile number there. His educational experience. And more. Plus I can see who wants to suck up to Jason on his wall (I’m there, so read into that what you want. By the way, so is the co-founder of Flickr, the founder of B5 Media network, and a bunch of other interesting people).

I also like that all his Twitters are there, so I can see what else Jason’s been ranting about without being forced to chase Jason all over the Net. On my profile you can see my Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Kyte, WordPress, Google Reader, and many other things. That saves you time of figuring out everything I’m doing.

Now, can I get this info any other way? LinkedIn? Maybe. Twitter? No. Pownce? No. Jaiku? No. Following his blog? No. Kyte? No. MySpace? Don’t be ridiculous.

Could I have called him? Yeah. I have his business card and his mobile phone in my contacts. But why would you waste Jason’s time asking stupid questions when the answer is already online? Will that lead to a good result? A ride in his Corvette, for instance? Or a business partnership?

Anyway, let’s specifically answer some questions Jason asked, cause they are interesting:

1. Facebook is a multilevel marketing platform. Jason’s right. But, then, so is my rolodex from the 1980s and 90s. Some people in that rolodex are a LOT more important to me than other people. Some people in that old-school rolodex introduced me to TONS of other people and influenced my life in major ways. That rolodex is now moving to Facebook where it’s getting MUCH stronger than it was on little business cards or in Outlook where I didn’t have pictures and didn’t have an ability to see inside the networks of friends each person has (Facebook lets me see all of your friends as well, if you leave that open, which most people do).
2. Facebook is a great way for me to promote what I’m doing. Absolutely. Jason’s right there! But it’s NOT one way! Hint: great parties, great people come to you, too. I’ll have a lot more to say about that soon.
3. Are we creating a social system to communicate with each other at a distance because the reality of creating and maintaining that social networking face-to-face is, well, scary? Well, I’m sure that some people would be scared by getting a ride in Jason’s Corvette, but I’ve been there and it was one of the greatest thrills of my life. Can I experience that over Facebook? No, but Jason’s phone number is on his Facebook so you can always call and invite him out for dinner.
4. Is Facebook a more efficient, rejection-free, surrogate for the real world? Um, Nick Denton didn’t accept my friend request. So, no, it’s just like the real world where some people think you’re an asshole and other people think you’re cool. I notice that Jason has enough people who think he’s cool that there’s an entire group of people who think he’s cool on Facebook. Seriously. Do a search on Jason’s name and you’ll find the group.
5. At a certain point social networks create negative returns on your investment. Absolutely. These things get noisy the more people you add to them. So, if you want to have no noise definitely don’t have any friends. Or keep your networks down to only your “real” friends instead of anyone who wants to come in. My strategy? I’m going with the noise cause I don’t know where the gold is going to come from. I realize not everyone is a weirdo like me in that regard.
6. Are we going to hire someone to manage our social networks? I haven’t yet and I doubt I will. My friend network is too important to me and there’s all sorts of gestures that are coming to me through it that I’d miss if some intern was tending to my network.

Anyways, interesting discussion. If I were really smart I wouldn’t be engaging in this right now and, instead, testing out the new CoComment that came out yesterday. Now THAT is interesting.

Of course now that Jason has closed down comments maybe that’s not so interesting after all.

91 thoughts on “Calacanis asks deep questions about social networks

  1. @23 David Morris:

    There are positive things about social networks, just like there are positive things about having a publicly published e-mail address. However, for most of us, we have real work to do and cannot take the time to find the occasional nugget in the trash that comes in.

    My perspective back when I first got invited to Friendster: I already get too many unwanted contacts (through e-mail) from people that are only interested in what I can do for them. Why would I join something based on “we both know Joe Jones, so do something for me”? It just doesn’t make any sense.

    I look at a lot of these sites, but I don’t generally join, simply because I don’t want to deal with “friends” that aren’t really friends but really just want something from me.

  2. @23 David Morris:

    There are positive things about social networks, just like there are positive things about having a publicly published e-mail address. However, for most of us, we have real work to do and cannot take the time to find the occasional nugget in the trash that comes in.

    My perspective back when I first got invited to Friendster: I already get too many unwanted contacts (through e-mail) from people that are only interested in what I can do for them. Why would I join something based on “we both know Joe Jones, so do something for me”? It just doesn’t make any sense.

    I look at a lot of these sites, but I don’t generally join, simply because I don’t want to deal with “friends” that aren’t really friends but really just want something from me.

  3. If Jason thinks Facebook sucks, then why is he on it in the first place?

    I notice in his blog post about Facebook he makes some positive points. If he perceives that there are positives to the website, surely he should persist with it.

  4. If Jason thinks Facebook sucks, then why is he on it in the first place?

    I notice in his blog post about Facebook he makes some positive points. If he perceives that there are positives to the website, surely he should persist with it.

  5. Using Facebook or other social networks and amassing a lot of contacts doesn’t have to be a “scattergun” approach. Almost all of my contacts on there are real life friends – some who I haven’t seen for years – but who I want to keep in touch with. Also, it has quite a few professional-oriented groups which can help you research specific topics or find qualified people to work with… So far I’ve found it to be much more than a toy! I do believe a lot of the social network-scepticism will disappear as the next generations become professionals. Younger people know the full power of social networks and will integrate them deeply into their approach to work in the future – but no doubt they will be new, more powerful platforms than the ones we have now. The S. Korean SN Cyworld is an interesting example, with much more sophisticated features than any of the US- or EU-based social network tools. Almost all S. Koreans are subscribed.

  6. Using Facebook or other social networks and amassing a lot of contacts doesn’t have to be a “scattergun” approach. Almost all of my contacts on there are real life friends – some who I haven’t seen for years – but who I want to keep in touch with. Also, it has quite a few professional-oriented groups which can help you research specific topics or find qualified people to work with… So far I’ve found it to be much more than a toy! I do believe a lot of the social network-scepticism will disappear as the next generations become professionals. Younger people know the full power of social networks and will integrate them deeply into their approach to work in the future – but no doubt they will be new, more powerful platforms than the ones we have now. The S. Korean SN Cyworld is an interesting example, with much more sophisticated features than any of the US- or EU-based social network tools. Almost all S. Koreans are subscribed.

  7. “Facebook is the modern day rolodex. It is the replacement for the business card.” Thought provoking, but no, it’s more than that, different from that. A

    ll the SocNets are different from one another, although it’s becoming progressively more difficult to separate them as they take on one another’s attributes and respond to people’s actual usage.

    Facebook (like MySpace, busy being forgotten but still twice as big) is also a venue for things to happen – e.g. causes, groups, events; Bebo is also a playspace. LinkedIn is supposedly more about “business” but actually tells you less about people in fact than the more “casual” and “expressive” networks do. The reason even business-oriented people are using Facebook more is surely because the more casual personal information being offered up there is also more revealing.

    I think that your use and therefore your view of SocNets depends almost entirely on your psychology.

    What surprises me is how SERIOUSLY everyone is taking Facebook profiles. Just because it’s a less messy interface, doesn’t make it any more real. Personally I take all information gleaned from profiles with a pinch of salt.

  8. “Facebook is the modern day rolodex. It is the replacement for the business card.” Thought provoking, but no, it’s more than that, different from that. A

    ll the SocNets are different from one another, although it’s becoming progressively more difficult to separate them as they take on one another’s attributes and respond to people’s actual usage.

    Facebook (like MySpace, busy being forgotten but still twice as big) is also a venue for things to happen – e.g. causes, groups, events; Bebo is also a playspace. LinkedIn is supposedly more about “business” but actually tells you less about people in fact than the more “casual” and “expressive” networks do. The reason even business-oriented people are using Facebook more is surely because the more casual personal information being offered up there is also more revealing.

    I think that your use and therefore your view of SocNets depends almost entirely on your psychology.

    What surprises me is how SERIOUSLY everyone is taking Facebook profiles. Just because it’s a less messy interface, doesn’t make it any more real. Personally I take all information gleaned from profiles with a pinch of salt.

  9. Are we missing something here? It has always struck me that the type of people who thrive on social netwroks are a particular type of people! So fine let the social butterflies do what they will in their millions. But it does raise the question, “Are there other applications that can be developed that might appeal to other types of people?” Is ‘social’ networking the only type of networking that works because it fulfills a need in some people? Maybe the rest of us don’t need to market ourselves, or are able to successfully target their networking rather than use a scatter gun approach.

  10. Now that it’s all out there in such great detail, can you assemble the patterns to create a profile and take that information completely stealth to stalk psychologically?

    I just did an interview where someone has followed my work closely for three years. They remembered things I forgot. This was major stuff, not minutia.

    What can people you don’t even know do with a lot of minutia and patterns.

    They ain’t twittering it.

    Perspective.

  11. Are we missing something here? It has always struck me that the type of people who thrive on social netwroks are a particular type of people! So fine let the social butterflies do what they will in their millions. But it does raise the question, “Are there other applications that can be developed that might appeal to other types of people?” Is ‘social’ networking the only type of networking that works because it fulfills a need in some people? Maybe the rest of us don’t need to market ourselves, or are able to successfully target their networking rather than use a scatter gun approach.

  12. Now that it’s all out there in such great detail, can you assemble the patterns to create a profile and take that information completely stealth to stalk psychologically?

    I just did an interview where someone has followed my work closely for three years. They remembered things I forgot. This was major stuff, not minutia.

    What can people you don’t even know do with a lot of minutia and patterns.

    They ain’t twittering it.

    Perspective.

  13. As I noted on WinExtra, there is no one right answer here. What Web 2.0 and the social networks are providing are new ways to communicate and link. Some might prefer Facebook. Some might prefer Twitter. Some might prefer blogs and comments. I personally believe LinkedIn is the modern business card, not Facebook, and I have used it many dozen times in the real world, with having never even thought of Facebook that way. I’ve recruited candidates via LinkedIn, and wouldn’t look at Facebook. If I’m hiring someone, I don’t need relationship status, religion, etc. It’s none of my business.

  14. As I noted on WinExtra, there is no one right answer here. What Web 2.0 and the social networks are providing are new ways to communicate and link. Some might prefer Facebook. Some might prefer Twitter. Some might prefer blogs and comments. I personally believe LinkedIn is the modern business card, not Facebook, and I have used it many dozen times in the real world, with having never even thought of Facebook that way. I’ve recruited candidates via LinkedIn, and wouldn’t look at Facebook. If I’m hiring someone, I don’t need relationship status, religion, etc. It’s none of my business.

  15. Its only a “modern day rolodex” if everyone else agrees that it is. But that just isn’t going to happen. No one company is going to own the rolodex definition business. So it isn’t a modern day rolodex, Q.E.D.
    It really is just an _additional_ attention hog on top of everything else more fundamental we already have to maintain.

  16. Its only a “modern day rolodex” if everyone else agrees that it is. But that just isn’t going to happen. No one company is going to own the rolodex definition business. So it isn’t a modern day rolodex, Q.E.D.
    It really is just an _additional_ attention hog on top of everything else more fundamental we already have to maintain.

  17. Robert, I don’t know what your “new CoComment” link is, but when I clicked on it, my system totally freaked out. I had to shut it down.

    I’ve never understood this “friend” stuff. Why do you have to give permission for somebody to call you a friend??? Why can’t they just put you in their contact list and then if you don’t want their contacts, you can block them. That’s the way I’m working our system, though it’s not really a social network, though we do have community features and contacts.

    Calling everybody “friend” is ridiculous, too. We’re letting the user define the words they want to call somebody via tags.

    Maybe I’m too darn old, but this friends stuff is just plain silly if you ask me. More than silly, really; it demeans the concept of friendship. I don’t want to be collected as if I’m a trading card and I don’t want to treat other human beings with so little regard either.

  18. Robert, I don’t know what your “new CoComment” link is, but when I clicked on it, my system totally freaked out. I had to shut it down.

    I’ve never understood this “friend” stuff. Why do you have to give permission for somebody to call you a friend??? Why can’t they just put you in their contact list and then if you don’t want their contacts, you can block them. That’s the way I’m working our system, though it’s not really a social network, though we do have community features and contacts.

    Calling everybody “friend” is ridiculous, too. We’re letting the user define the words they want to call somebody via tags.

    Maybe I’m too darn old, but this friends stuff is just plain silly if you ask me. More than silly, really; it demeans the concept of friendship. I don’t want to be collected as if I’m a trading card and I don’t want to treat other human beings with so little regard either.

  19. I agree with you Robert. Facebook is the digital Rolodex. Did some people have hundreds of names in their analog Rolodexes back in the 80s? Sure. Were there some people they never called? Of course. When you accept friend requests, that gives you contact information that may be helpful in the future. It’s just like when you exchange business cards at a networking dinner; you may not get to have a meaningful conversation with a person, but if the need to get in touch arises in the future, you have the contact info.

    And Ilya’s comment about being out of Facebook’s target demo is soooo 2006. Facebook has 90 percent of the college kids, but is adding over a million users a week in the 25-49 group.

  20. I agree with you Robert. Facebook is the digital Rolodex. Did some people have hundreds of names in their analog Rolodexes back in the 80s? Sure. Were there some people they never called? Of course. When you accept friend requests, that gives you contact information that may be helpful in the future. It’s just like when you exchange business cards at a networking dinner; you may not get to have a meaningful conversation with a person, but if the need to get in touch arises in the future, you have the contact info.

    And Ilya’s comment about being out of Facebook’s target demo is soooo 2006. Facebook has 90 percent of the college kids, but is adding over a million users a week in the 25-49 group.

  21. “I’ve actually had hundreds of people wanting into my social network, so I timed it: I can add hundreds in less than five minutes”

    Um, sorry, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you that that is not building a social network. That’s indiscriminate trawling. Adding hundreds (thousands) of unqualified contacts is about as useful as harvesting e-mail addresses or Myspace friends you don’t know.

    Bragging rights, sure. Flatters the old ego, very probably. But ultimately useless.

  22. “I’ve actually had hundreds of people wanting into my social network, so I timed it: I can add hundreds in less than five minutes”

    Um, sorry, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you that that is not building a social network. That’s indiscriminate trawling. Adding hundreds (thousands) of unqualified contacts is about as useful as harvesting e-mail addresses or Myspace friends you don’t know.

    Bragging rights, sure. Flatters the old ego, very probably. But ultimately useless.

  23. When you figure out how to make coComment work stably, and what I ought to do with it, let me know. When I downloaded it, it slowed down or stopped every one of my posts to everything and I finally uninstalled it. Connie Reece told me she had to, too.

  24. When you figure out how to make coComment work stably, and what I ought to do with it, let me know. When I downloaded it, it slowed down or stopped every one of my posts to everything and I finally uninstalled it. Connie Reece told me she had to, too.

  25. Why do I need to go to FaceBook to become your competitor (your previous article).

    I can become one just by opposing your ideas in my weblog. You’ll make me your competitor :D

    And I don’t need to go on FaceBook if I want to know you better.
    I know you from your blog.

    My question is: why do you need FaceBook?
    Do you think that you’ll know me better from my profile there!?

    BTHW, I hope that the trackback from my article will get here soon. Sometimes the network is very slow ;)

  26. Why do I need to go to FaceBook to become your competitor (your previous article).

    I can become one just by opposing your ideas in my weblog. You’ll make me your competitor :D

    And I don’t need to go on FaceBook if I want to know you better.
    I know you from your blog.

    My question is: why do you need FaceBook?
    Do you think that you’ll know me better from my profile there!?

    BTHW, I hope that the trackback from my article will get here soon. Sometimes the network is very slow ;)

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  28. seriously, why the hell do you care what Jason or anyone else thinks about facebook?
    We all know you love it because if feeds your narcisisim. Great! Use it. But why be so insecure when someone else finds it useless? Why would you even care? Not everyone drives a Saturn. Do those people not “get it” either?

  29. seriously, why the hell do you care what Jason or anyone else thinks about facebook?
    We all know you love it because if feeds your narcisisim. Great! Use it. But why be so insecure when someone else finds it useless? Why would you even care? Not everyone drives a Saturn. Do those people not “get it” either?

  30. Facebook is the new business card? Oh please.

    You are so far out of Facebook’s target demographic…Facebook is a way to remember the name of the cute girl you met at the party last night, not a serious business networking application.

    LinkedIn, maybe. But Facebook? Facebook is a toy.

  31. Facebook is the new business card? Oh please.

    You are so far out of Facebook’s target demographic…Facebook is a way to remember the name of the cute girl you met at the party last night, not a serious business networking application.

    LinkedIn, maybe. But Facebook? Facebook is a toy.

  32. Great post; couldn’t agree with you more! Will you be my friend on FB? hehe By the way, I also found that Chris Pirillo video funny, especially for a Friday (well Saturday here) post! I had a big smile on my face reading the ‘testiface’ comments too….

  33. Great post; couldn’t agree with you more! Will you be my friend on FB? hehe By the way, I also found that Chris Pirillo video funny, especially for a Friday (well Saturday here) post! I had a big smile on my face reading the ‘testiface’ comments too….

  34. I agree with a lot of what you say about the two-point-oh social networking thing, for example I like the fact that friends can GPS/Google maps to my house without having to ask directions. Basically what excites me and what you’re getting at is that we need to ask fewer questions of each other. People always argue that there is a distinction between being friends over a social network and being friends IRL. I suppose that although my IRL friends might have had a bit more face time with me, it is possible that someone who knows me over Myspace (I work in the Music industry in the UK, Myspace currently has a lot over Facebook in that sector) could garner all the necessary info on me before we meet.

  35. I agree with a lot of what you say about the two-point-oh social networking thing, for example I like the fact that friends can GPS/Google maps to my house without having to ask directions. Basically what excites me and what you’re getting at is that we need to ask fewer questions of each other. People always argue that there is a distinction between being friends over a social network and being friends IRL. I suppose that although my IRL friends might have had a bit more face time with me, it is possible that someone who knows me over Myspace (I work in the Music industry in the UK, Myspace currently has a lot over Facebook in that sector) could garner all the necessary info on me before we meet.

  36. I forgot to add to IMO, the Internet has taken meeting people out of the equation in too many instances. I LIKE talking people in the flesh, not over IM or via email.

  37. I forgot to add to IMO, the Internet has taken meeting people out of the equation in too many instances. I LIKE talking people in the flesh, not over IM or via email.

  38. Social networks are a bit overrated IMO. For one, I don’t want to deal with people I have never met in person. I’m a rather private person, and I don’t really fancy putting my info on the net for all to see.
    If I need a job, I’ll network with people I know and through them, their contacts.
    I fail to see what having a social network profile can do for me. I’m not interested in getting email from people I don’t know. What possible good could come from it?
    If I want geek contacts, I’ll join a local geek/computer/linux/apple/MS club and actually get to know people.

  39. Social networks are a bit overrated IMO. For one, I don’t want to deal with people I have never met in person. I’m a rather private person, and I don’t really fancy putting my info on the net for all to see.
    If I need a job, I’ll network with people I know and through them, their contacts.
    I fail to see what having a social network profile can do for me. I’m not interested in getting email from people I don’t know. What possible good could come from it?
    If I want geek contacts, I’ll join a local geek/computer/linux/apple/MS club and actually get to know people.

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