Category Archives: social networking

The online pub.

Russell Coker asks whether he can identify a new class of friend, which he calls “blog friends“. That is, people he knows through the blogosphere.

I reply: that’s your social network. The blogosphere is social networking for real. It comes without the Big Hype of facebook, myspace or orkut, or equally “grown-up” versions like linkedin. Instead it brings together people with genuine shared interests. I first saw your blog because it’s syndicated to a reputable planet, and I read it because you have interesting things to say. Not because of some vacuous association of having told some website we’re interested in [foo].

This is what Usenet groups, and to a lesser extent public mailinglists, have been doing for over 20 years. Usenet is the traditional online commons: it’s open to all, and not owned by anyone. I’ve made a few friends through usenet over the years, and I’d say blog friends are another wave of the same.

And before that, there was the forum, the รžing, the debating society, the cafรฉ society, the common room, not to mention the public square. Places we talk, and meet people. The ‘net has globalised our socialising, and among other things it’s turned the “arranged marriage” of the old penpal into a free association.

Just as much of the commons of England were illegally fenced off 300 years ago, so many people have tried (albeit legally!) to fence off their little bit of online commons. “Social networking” websites are a natural evolution of earlier web-based clubs that sought to appropriate parts of the Usenet commons. The blog is a third player in that field: it’s a part of your own home, where you’ve chosen to offer public access and a noticeboard. So I guess, the public house!

Mine’s a pint, if you please ๐Ÿ™‚


The BBC’s World Business Review just discussed the ‘net, with reference to social networking sites, online privacy, and identity. Several guests from the industry, and a better than average discussion.

Quote of the day: Microsoft were due to join this discussion, but their own equipment failed.

The BBC seem to have their own problems too: at the time of writing, the link still gives you an earlier edition, on the unrelated subject of Zimbabwe.

Cause and effect and jobs

I got another request to join someone’s linkedin network.ย  I seem to be registered there: some time in the past, in a moment of weakness, I went and signed up on receiving an invite from someone I know to be genuine.

At the bottom of the invite is a one-line carrot: “Fact: Adding 5 connections makes you 3.7x more likely to receive a job offer“.ย  I guess they have some stats to support the assertion.

Of course they can’t know every job offer anyone receives.ย  Maybe they can come somewhere near to knowing every offer that goes through some process they facilitate.ย  Perhaps the “fact” taken with appropriate qualifiers is reasonably well supported.

So that’ll be “people who are more active on linkedin are more likely to find a job through linkedin”.ย  Sounds reasonable.

But now they’re using “find a job” as a carrot.ย  So that’ll be self-fulfilling: people in the jobs market are more likely to take the carrot and become more active there, while others are more likely to ignore it.ย  How is that better than (or even as good as) signing up at a jobs site?ย  Ah, right, it’s somewhere you can look without admitting (maybe even to yourself) you’re on that game?

But maybe there’s a real advantage: ‘normal’ jobs boards are overwhelmingly dominated by recruiters who lack techie knowledge of their market, and work on buzzwords of random relevance.ย  That kind of thing is a complete waste of time if you’ve rejected the ratrace career in the Dilbertian office.