Fixed and flexible networks

Mitch Joel’s post on Six Pixels of SeparationIntimacy 2.0, made me think of my previous post in Swedish – Fasta och flexibla nätverk. With more and more of our media becoming digital and people creating social networks on the web and in communities, the nature of our networks are shifting a bit. Often, like on Facebook for example, our networks become more “fixed”. When I update my status message on Facebook, it is a message that goes out to my whole network. If I call a friend to chat for a while, or even send a mail to a couple of friends, it is only going out to the the specific ones I pick at the time. On Facebook, the message goes out to everybody.

Word of mouth effects are more and more taking place in these kinds of fixed networks. In the past (and still in other communications channels) if I had something to recommend I did it in relation to how highly I valued the product/service and depending on who I think this might be valuable to. A decision is made every time a recommendation is made to each recipient.

Now, with more and more fixed networks, it is increasingly only one decision that is made – it’s either publish it or not publish it, to everybody.

Mitch Joel wrote:

“The better conversations are the smaller ones. The ones that happen in the hallways and not on the tradeshow floors.”

… which I totally agree with.

The question is what effects these fixed networks creates? I still haven’t formed a definite opinion about it, but these are some thoughts:

  • The average quality for recommendations will be lower, since it is less customized to the individual recipient.
  • There is a spillover effect, where some interested recipients that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the information gets it. (thanks Niclas
  • People filter what they publish a bit more thoroughly, and publish less.
  • More messages that are irrelevant to the individual are published which creates more clutter for recipients –> less attention.

Which ones of the effects above do you think are probable? What more effects can you think of?

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