The global kitchen

I recently compared virtual worlds to a global shed so I thought I’d try another house related analogy…

After a few discussions with Andy recently I’m toying with the idea that social software is like a global kitchen. A kitchen is a good place for a nice cup of tea and a sit down when friends or neighbours pop round, and it’s where a large proportion of the guests are likely to be found at a party (and coincidentally where all the alcohol is). Like the kitchen, Weblogs, Dopplr, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and (insert your favourite here) all provide a sociable place you can connect to people through. Unlike the kitchen, the people can be from anywhere, and they can stop by at any time to leave a note on your fridge, even if you aren’t in.

I find it fascinating how people are connected; for example, Andy and I connected a contact he has made online with someone I know in person (and only recently discovered has a blog, through Facebook!) in one degree of blogroll. It seems to me that the people you meet in person and those you meet online are no different, and there’s quite an overlap anyway: people you meet in person move away, and you can meet people in person that began as virtual friendships (Dopplr perhaps makes that more likely). I often struggle to remember when, or how, I first met someone but the process seems to be similar whether in person or through social software. You can be introduced to a friend of a friend in person or on LinkedIn, and you can bump into someone randomly on the way to the fridge or stumble upon their weblog by chance.

One thing that I do find odd is that, despite their primary purpose, sites that record your network of contacts don’t seem to help making those contacts in the first place. At least in my experience, I have only ever added someone to my Facebook or LinkedIn network after meeting them elsewhere.

For slightly more coherent thoughts on the subject, with no mention of kitchens, here are the blog posts Andy pointed me at in the first place:

What the heck is a non-meta friend anyway?

Christine Rosen on Virtual Friendships And The New Narcissism

7 thoughts on “The global kitchen

  1. I appreciate you linking to my blog post. I’ll even accept that you consider it “coherent” ;)

    Although what I find a little bit interesting is how you said that you’ve never added somebody to Facebook or LinkedIn that you haven’t already met elsewhere; whereas Andy and I have never met in person and I probably interact with him online just as much as any other contact I have.

    Many of my other contacts are librarians that I haven’t met yet, but I do consider that to be in my “professional circle” since I am a librarian myself.

    Maybe it’s just different experiences? You’re probably right though, networks do seem to do a better job connecting you to people you already know.

  2. Hello Heidi, it was a good post to read; everyone should have their own Andy Piper 2.0 feed. And definitely more coherent…

    ‘Social networking has removed the limits of geography, why do I have to limit my so called, “friends” to where I live or to whether I’ve met them personally?’

    As for Facebook and LinkedIn, it just seems like a giant leap from someone being completely unknown to me, to being embedded in my network. I know I could always boot them out again later, but somehow I doubt I ever would. On the other hand, getting to know a bit about someone through a few tweets, a blog post or two, etc. before adding them to one of the networking sites smooths the transition- I certainly have a few friends on Facebook and LinkedIn who I’ve never met in person.

  3. The social network, in my mind, is not so much like a single room in a house, as it is a public space like a park or town square or even Starbucks, where people gather to talk. The global kitchen would be your home in Second Life, or your Facebook home page where people can connect with you individually.

  4. True, Facebook and similar sites are a bit more like a private space, requiring an invitation to enter, but things like twitter are much more like a public space- the local pub perhaps!

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