Friday, March 28, 2008

At Last: MySpace Lets You Categorize Your Friends

So I see that yesterday/today, MySpace finally added the ability for users to categorize their friends:
Does this mean that future MySpace enhancements are dependent on movies that are tangentially related to Judd Apatow?

Functionally, this means that, in addition to creating groups for Friends, Enemies, Cow-Orkers, Work Spouses, Work Spouses With Benefits, etc., you can also create groups for people Who Aren't Actually Your Friends, which is basically everyone you don't know personally: Bands, venues, radio shows, comedians, porn stars, c-list quasi-celebrities and other entities you want to keep track of but are not, strictly speaking, your friends. (This is an important distinction.)

The ability to organize and categorize your friends, I'm sure, ties (in some oblique, opaque, and eminently billable ways) into your social graph. If I hadn't already had 3 (or was it 4?) beers, I'm sure I could do a graphic with some very skillfully annotated concentric circles. And perhaps even an Indexed-style Venn diagram.

However, it reminds me of many, many AOL product Powerpoint presentations that hinged on leveraging "the first and most relevant social network: the Buddy List" -- as a primary driver for success.

At a theoretical level, it made a kind of sense. But (and maybe this was just a function of crappy product execution), I don't know anyone who actually used their Buddy List categories in a way that was fungible to this kind of social network application.

Looking back, it was kind of like trying to apply your landline phone's speed dial to a social network: The metaphor didn't really translate across media. I'm not sure why -- looking at my own online interactions, online presence is very much a key driver of how often I harass my friends.

I will have to think about it some more.

Anyway, the conceit that leveraging the existing AIM/AOL Buddy List network would overcome the many fundamental flaws in product concept and execution, resulted in the titanic thuds that accompanied more than a few launches, some of which were outlined in this week's FastCompany article on AOL, "Dead Man Walking."

[Edit: Boy, it's a good thing Blogger normalizes entry titles by stripping out punctuation -- otherwise, I would have had to live with "Let's" in the title. Oh, the indignity.]

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