7 reasons why Social Networking is the “Thing of the Year”

1. Facebook crosses 350 million.
That’s more accounts than email market leader Yahoo. If Facebook was a separate country, then we’d all live in virtual utopia full of lovey dovey friends and groups, no enemies, virtual gifts, quizzes that predict the future, virtual farms, water worlds, nice Tarot sessions and fortune cookies… And yeah, in numbers, that’s next only to the population of China and India.

2. US actor Ashton Kutcher gets 4 million “Followers” on Twitter.
How many did Jesus Christ have in his lifetime? What was the population of the kingdom at that time anyway? Will Kutcher state in a Lennonisque fashion: “I am more popular than…”?

3. The Most Powerful Man in the World is on LinkedIn.
And Twitter (Trailing Kutcher with close to 3 million Followers). And Facebook. (A cool 7 million supporters).
Is that why he beat Senator McCain? Great power in the online world as a launching pad? (Even if Obama doesn’t actually post the updates himself, it’s still a Huge Leap Forward for Cybermankind)

4. The high and mighty are all getting Socially Networked.
Raymond T. Odierno, the Commanding General, Multi-National Force—Iraq is on Facebook! And he’s joined by Pakistan’s former General Pervez Musharraf! Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is on Twitter? Need I say more? I could go on and on… but you get the general picture!

5. Controversies! Controversies! Controversies!
When anything enters into multiple controversies, then you know it’s time has come.
Republican Joe Wilson raised his finger to Obama and said, “You lie!” and before he knew it, a storm was unleashed on Twitter. The Internet assures an immediate and widespread backlash nowadays. (Incidentally, Wilson is also on Twitter!)
Religious leaders slammed Facebook and there was a surfeit of crimes related to these networking sites
In humble India too, where the Internet penetration is so low, there was the Shashi Tharoor Twittergate controversy, where the minister almost lost his job and the hilarious trending topic #chetanblocks related to writer Chetan Bhagat blocking a Follower.

6. Reel life and fiction.
A Twitter mention in the climax of the latest Robert Langdon adventure? Facebook in a Bollywood movie? Social Networking gained a lot of traction in 2009 and it is inspiring a lot of fiction for 2010 and beyond. Look out for Kevin Spacey produced The Social Network about the founding of Facebook. (Directed by none other than David Fincher)

7. The Uber Cyber Ego.
The new age Ego Search was the Google Search. But now here’s something even better…
How are you feeling? What are you eating? Do you have a headache? Are you stuck in a traffic jam?
Is anyone interested? Well even if they are not, then you can make sure a few thousand people at least know about it. If you’re a celebrity, make that millions—all without a newspaper, TV channel or a personal website. A handful of social networking accounts will do the trick.

© Sunil Rajguru

Just some things…

While I’m pretty happy with my social networking sites and emails, just some little things…

Facebook: Have you ever tried searching for your old posts on Facebook? You go down and click “Older Posts”. Then your page suddenly doubles in size. Go down and click the same thing again. Another page is added. You can keep clicking till your Web page is 100 pages long or your computer crashes, depending on how good your system is and your patience level. Why can’t they just separate it page by page like most websites do?

You can also try the search the button on the right hand top, but that’s erratic. If you know the keyword to your post, you can still find it, though it is not always reliable. Reminds me of how lousy the Wikipedia search used to be a few years back. Even if you got one letter wrong, then alternative search suggestions would not show up. Thank god they rectified that!

Desperately needed is a Search option not only for Friends/Groups, but specifically for Status Messages, Links, Notes and Application too, for both you and your Friends’ home pages.

Secondly, on the right hand side of every update you can choose to stop getting updates of a particular friend or application (like Quizzes, Farmville, Mafia Wars etc) if you are not interested. This can be undone at any time using the Edit Options button at the right hand bottom. You can also use that to limit the number of feeds to 25, 50, 250 friends, whatever…

But that’s a one-way traffic. I can moderate the updates that I “Receive” and not the ones that I “Send”. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, then let me explain. Say I have 100 Friends, 50 from the office and 50 from my family. Now if I say, “I’m tired of work.” I only want my family to see it and not my colleagues. On the other hand, I may be talking about a family get-together that my office will not at all be interested in. Facebook already allows you to make Lists. When posting a Status Update, Link, Note or updates related to other applications, you should have the choice of it appearing universally or only to certain lists of Friends. Right now they have just put the option of tagging friends on Status Updates.

I also think “Friends” is misleading. “Connections” is more applicable.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn will keep goading you to add new connections with the “People You May Know” box that comes on the right hand top. You see a familiar face and send the invite and the person doesn’t remember you well, clicking “Don’t Know” in the option. That’s fine, but if 5 people say that, then your direct invitation option will be disabled and you’ll have to furnish an email. In the long run you may also have your account disabled. Isn’t that rather harsh?

In today’s environment, you may regularly attend events, group meetings and the like. You may chat with some stranger for 15-20 days and after a few days if he sends an invite and you may not recall him. Clicking the “Don’t Know” option would be penalizing him. You may also know a person well and still not want him in your network. Again, the “Don’t Know” seems superfluous.

When an invitation is received, one should get the following choices:
1. Accept. 2. Know the person, but decline. 3. Don’t recall the person. 4. Don’t know the person.
Only the fourth option should invite a penalty.
This will also give a better picture of how people want to and don’t want to connect.

Gmail: I got hooked to Mozilla Firefox because of tabbed browsing. I’m used to opening multiple tabs (sometimes till Firefox crashes). If a good story has 5 links, then I go Control Click Click Click… and all 5 open. 10 new mails and open them all at once in different tabs and then keep shutting them down with a keyboard commands. (I try to minimize usage of the mouse. Kinder on the poor ole fingers!) However, Gmail is the only major service that doesn’t allow it. You’ve got to keep clicking next, next, next…

OK, maybe I’m going a bit too far with the last Gmail bit…
But one can’t complain too much… these are all free services after all!

© Sunil Rajguru