Realizing the Social Graph (and world peace)

I hate to be the one who throws cold water over the warm and fuzzy dreams that some, like Jeff Jarvis, have about structuring online relationships. I regularly have lofty dreams too. One recurring theme involves world peace. It’s usually in full color and varies between realistic images of people around the world embracing each other to more abstract visions of individuals graciously levitating with melancholic smiles on their faces.

Jeff (and others) have a vision of relationship management that would make even Martha Stewart, the queen of organizing our lives, raise her eyebrows. If we could somehow link all online relationships in some coherent visual way, everything would somehow make more sense. And theoretically we can. Theoretically, my dreams for world peace could be realized too. Realistically though; paranoia, ignorance, attention-deficit and disinterest will prevent many lofty dreams from being realized in our lifetime.

The present reality is:

  1. There are millions of people who don’t even like to type their name anywhere on the Internet for fear that it will somehow come back to bite them. They are the paranoid.
  2. There are millions of unintelligent people who wouldn’t understand the concept or be able to participate in a social graphing movement if it required any bit of user input. They are the ignorant.
  3. There are millions of people who have attention deficit problems. For them, even trying to manage a handful of ‘friends’ in Facebook or MySpace or following 20 people on Twitter is a challenge. They are the overwhelmed.
  4. There are millions of people who just don’t care about the greater good that could be accomplished by participating in the social graph. They are selfish about their online pursuits and don’t want to share with others. They are the disinterested.

Jeff says that the Internet is more about relationships than it is about content. For some, it is. But unless that notion is shared and embraced by everyone, it remains a dream, like world peace. I hope that they both come true. Perhaps one will make the other possible. Let’s work on world peace first.

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