If you read my comments on the last post you’ll see the “Scoble-you-don’t-need-more-friends” lobby.
Someone asked why I keep pointing out the 5,000 friends limit. Why? Because I still haven’t gotten through and I’m still getting pushback from the lobby. So, let’s try one more time.
First, a “friend” in Facebook is NOT a “real friend.” (Let’s define “real friend” for now as someone who you’d invite over to your house for dinner). In social networking software a “friend” is someone you want in your social network. Period. Nothing more. The fact that people assume that you should only have “real friends” in your social network is just plain wrong. Do you only hand out business cards to “real friends?” In your contact list in Outlook or Gmail do you only have “real friends?” In your phone book do you only have “real friends?” I don’t. I have some people that I talk with all the time on my phone who I’ve never even met. Heck, I remember meeting Donncha O’Caoimh in Cork, Ireland and he kept asking me about what Matt Mullenweg was like. I thought that was funny because Donncha worked for Matt yet had never met him up to that point (Matt is the founder of Automattic, which is the company that makes the blog service Im using here).
Second, Facebook is NOT just a social networking tool. So, any limitation it has limits all the other functions. We’ll go into those in a second.
Third, Facebook’s engineers tell me that the 5,000 friend limit is there because their engines have scaling problems. In fact, I’ve noticed parts of Facebook slowed down for me at about 3,000 friends. Also lots of stuff broke and didn’t work for me (videos, for instance, didn’t work until just recently for me).
Fourth, it +is+ possible to get thousands of names in your contact list. My friend, Buzz Bruggeman, isn’t “famous” yet has 12,000 names in his Outlook contact list. He used to be a lawyer, now is CEO of ActiveWords, and is one of the world’s best networkers. Imagine you tell him he can’t put more than 5,000 names into his contact list.
Fifth, just because YOU don’t use a system in a hard-core way doesn’t mean that it should be designed for YOU. Imagine a pro camera being designed for someone who only takes pictures three times a year (which is pretty average behavior, actually). Facebook claims they are a “social utility.” Yet there are walls that it has that limit that utility for many users. Facebook employees tell me there are thousands of people who have gotten to 5,000 contacts so I’m not alone.
So, why does this matter?
Well, because inside Facebook is a competitor for these three sites:
1. Flickr. Facebook has its own photo sharing system.
2. Upcoming. Facebook has its own event sharing system.
3. YouTube. Facebook has its own video sharing system.
So, imagine that Flickr only let 5,000 people see your photos? Or that YouTube only let 5,000 watch your videos? Wouldn’t you be pissed? Wouldn’t there be massive protests?
Absolutely. Yet we accept this crappy software engineering because of the “you-don’t-need-more-friends” lobby.
The hell with the lobby.