Friday, 13 June 2008


There are some websites where you go to be social, such as Facebook or MySpace. And there are some sites that are just conversations between the site and the individual. When you visit these type of sites have you ever wondered who else was viewing the same website you were visiting?There is no real community - the visitors are strangers in the dark. The answer might tell you something surprising and rewarding about yourself and your online social identity, and your invisible online community of fellow travellers. In a world of exaggerated differences, sharing a common interest counts for something. You could have the same problem, the same question, or the same hobby. If you knew these other people you could team up, collaborate, socialise, entertain or educate each other.

Take my blog as an example. It's me talking with an audience of visitors - people like you. The visitors to my blog know my site, but they don't know each other - they are strangers in a community of the likeminded. I recently started looking at the locations around the world where my blog visitors visit from - see image below. It changes each month, but most months the densest concentrations are usually in London, New York, and cities in California. They are less than the legendary 6 degrees of separation away from each other, frequently living in the same city, but divided by a 'connection gap'. Only those that leave comments are recognized, but more people could be sharing and connecting if only they could connect.
Google Friend Connect is supposed to remedy this for people you already know. But surely in the future, we will have systems that connect people who have never set eyes upon each other, but have a common interest, or a shared goal. This I suspect will be an interesting consequence of the semantic web: connecting people as well as connecting knowledge. And when this is posisble, the saying 'there are no strangers, only friends you are yet to meet' takes on a new significance.


Tina B said...

This is such a poignant post Tony. I'd like to quote from it in a book I'm writing on social networking. May I do that? Is there a specific credit wording you'd like me to use?

Tony Effik said...

Hi Tina

It would be an honour for me if you used the quote.

Also let me know what the book is called and I'll write a post on it.

Since I'm always trying to drive more traffic to the blog the credit wording that would most suit me would be something like:

From Tony Effik's Comments on the Social Graph blog

Tina B said...

Great Tony, thank you. The book is called Social Networking for Rookies and will be published by Marshall Cavendish under their Cyan imprint. I'm not sure of final publication date but I'll let you know.

Once I've got the book finished and can get on with my own blogging (!) I'll link across to you from mine. I'm about to embark on an interesting new journey, joining forces with a friend whose a specialist in consumer language and behaviours, so there might be some interesting synergy betwixt your blog and the one I'm setting up for her at Let's keep in touch!