According to an article about Mark Zuckerberg in the current issue of Wired Magazine, one of the goals of Facebook is to organize one’s real life friends online, mapping what he’s called the “social graph.” I was thinking about this, and I have to say: Facebook does a HORRIBLE job of mapping this out for ME.
I Can’t See
If I click my “Friends” tab in Facebook, I see an alphabetical list. There are a few other ways to organize this list, but in none of the cases does this map to my real universe. I can’t, for instance, group Jim Long and Jonny Goldstein together, even though I know they both are in the DC area, are both media makers, and are both people I’d want to think about in similar ways. I just can’t see people in this fashion. My own friends are shuffled into a deck in an order I have no power over. (Yes, I’ve heard of “Top Friends.” I use it. Not enough.)
And I want tags to sort in other ways, like “Twitter friends” and “People to call when I’m sad” and “People who might help my business goals.” What do you think, Robert or Jeff? With thousands of friends, don’t you wish the organization would be just a little more David Weinberger for you?
What I Want
I want to slice and dice this data any way I choose. I want tagging. I want visual shuffling, the same way I do with business cards. Know how I organize my business cards? By event. If I met you at TechCrunch40, your card is right there beside other people I met there.
I want ways to message people or notify people geographically. “Chris Brogan is in San Francisco with a few hours to kill.” Sure, you see that status message on your news feed, but if you’re like me, and have more than a few hundred friends, these needles get lost in haystacks.
If YOU Won’t Slice It, Let Me
Is there an app I could write to do this? (By “I” and “write,” I mean someone smart who writes apps, and I would, say, either pay them or encourage them a lot). What’s up with this? Could we break open the “friend” prison, and let me see my friends my way?
And now for something completely different. I want my damned data my way all the time. I want that Microsoft Surfaces interface. I know. Sacrilege. A Mac guy just said he wanted a Microsoft product. But I do. I want to stack my info my way. I want to see things in a way that makes sense to my needs. For instance, I want Gmail notifier to do it my way. I want my files to slide around in piles. I want searches to be heat maps and graphical and more than just text.
Not in Facebook. Everywhere. But hey, if the new rumbling in town – Facebook is Google – is to be taken forward, then I want some better control and visualization. Have you ever thought about just how much we use our qwerty keyboards to do just that? To type words? Why aren’t we coming up with new ways to move things around, and see things not just as lists of text (Look at GMAIL and Google Reader), but perhaps as overlaying data structures? Where is that?
Okay, Zuckerberg. Give me back my friends, and you! Write some apps or something. Okay?
What do you think? Am I alone on this one?
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