Tag Archives: myspace

Reclaiming the Rolodex

Facebook is the new RolodexI’d like to talk about the statement to the left, made by Brian Devine via Twitter yesterday morning. (I should mention that it caught my attention when it was forwarded by Jonathan Rick, who, in case you’re wondering, I met in person first and then connected with online.)

I completely agree with Brain: I do believe that Facebook and other online networks – loosely defined – such as LinkedIn and Google have become the contact management systems du jour.

The problem, and what worries me, is that we, as individuals, had full control of the data in our Rolodexes of yesteryear. We chose when to add, when to remove, when to edit contacts. And that Rolodex was ours to keep, save any unfortunate circumstances (I’m thinking natural disasters here), for as long as we wanted no matter where we went.

Now, we are at the mercy of these companies. For example, I use Google Contacts to stay in touch – by e-mail and phone – to friends, family, colleagues, and former classmates around the world. But let’s say that Google decided one day without warning to stop supporting that feature? I would be left with no numbers or emails addresses for any of my closest contacts. And, at least with Google Contacts, I am able to export all the data I’ve inputed into the system and take it to another provider or save it on my comptuer (or another location) for safekeeping.

Neither Facebook (nor LinkedIn nor MySpace) allow anything of the sort. (It should be noted that Facebook, in its infancy, did have this feature enabled. With its epic growth, however, I think Facebook thought that for privacy reasons, enabling users to exports the contact information of other users they connected to through the site could be dangerous.)

Where does that leave us? What happens if our account were to get hacked or accidentally deleted? I’m sure many of you shudder at the thought of losing all those connections (and pictures and videos and messages and everything else that’s now contained within the site).

When I said this all to Jonathan (in less than 140 characters!), he replied: “Since we all use Facebook voluntarily, if we disagree with the Terms Of Service, then we should stop“. He has a good point. BUT – because that’s where the majority of our contacts are active, we miss out by not participating in the service. So, we’re stuck in between a rock and a hard place since there’s not much we can do, is there?

I can’t offer a solution (other than to reiterate how important backing up and creating copies of such information truly is) but I do continue to hope that in this era of collaboration, Facebook as well as other services can find a balance between user privacy, a competitive advantage and allowing users to own and manipulate their data in a suitable manner.

identity 2.0

One interesting trend that I’ve noticed over the years is the convergence of our offline and online identities.

When did we become comfortable enough to discard our pseudonyms for our real identities? I believe we were directly influenced by the two waves of Internet innovation and that the convergence demonstrates the maturing of the Internet population.

First, there was AIM and MySpace, where we were encouraged to create aliases incorporating our unique attributes and interests a la “nsyncchick” or “sk8er4eva”. They may sound silly now but reflect the creative skills of your typical teenager, arguably the most active Internet population at that time.

Then came Google Chat, Facebook and LinkedIn. All three are successful because of the use of real names.

But I wonder if all this is safe? Wasn’t that the reason for the use of nicknames in the first place? Has the active internet population shifted so much that predators aren’t an issue anymore? Or have we just gotten too comfortable?

And how has this changed the way we communicate and represent ourselves online? We can no longer hide who we are and can very easily be held accountable for what we put onto the Web. I absolutely take into account that my parents, peers, prospective clients and colleagues can view what I’ve included on this page and elsewhere. So are we all self-censoring who we are? Can we be all things to all people?


An article in today’s Boston Globe, Social-network sites give businesses ideas for new collaboration, highlights the soon-to-be movement of using social networking sites, blogs and other connection tools within a corporate setting.

“The new technologies will help companies empower workers, pool expertise across departments and geographies, and attract young workers who grew up with blogs and social networks. But critics of social networking in business applications cited the dangers of relaxing control of in-house communities… However, companies cited competitive advantages they’d gained from new collaborative technologies.”

In my previous position, I created a screen name for my boss so that we could talk through instant messages rather than those annoying 1 line emails. And I’ve always said that there’s something missing from the workplace in terms of a tool for getting to know your employees. As a new employee at a big (or even small) company, all those new names are hard to memorize, especially for someone who a visual learner. (If I see a picture with a name below it, I’ll remember that person’s name forever. If I meet someone and their name is said out loud, I’ve gotten worse and worse at being able to recall what I was told.) I tried to organize an employee cookbook in the past. The premise was that everyone contributes a recipe, which is then included in the book along with a picture and some basic information. The cookbook is then given to new employees when they begin.

A social networking site like MySpace or Facebook for businesses would allow employees to get to know each other – better and faster.