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Tag: contacts

Google Buzz, il faut en parler quand même [fr]

Google Buzz, il faut en parler quand même [fr]

[en] I write a weekly column for Les Quotidiennes, which I republish here on CTTS for safekeeping.

Chroniques du monde connecté: cet article a été initialement publié dans Les Quotidiennes (voir l’original).

J’essaie d’éviter de me jeter sur les sujets d’actualité, parce qu’il y en a assez qui font déjà ça, et souvent bien mieux que moi. Mais je vais quand même dire quelques mots sur Google Buzz, que vous avez vu passer dans votre boîte e-mail si vous avez une adresse Gmail.

Google Buzz, c’est la réponse de Google à Twitter et Facebook. Un flux de nouvelles provenant de votre réseau, auxquelles on peut répondre, un ruisseau de vie numérique dans lequel on plonge quand bon nous semble.

Jusqu’ici, et compte tenu du peu de temps que j’ai passé avec ce nouveau jouet, il y a deux commentaires intéressants à faire: l’un concernant la nature des publics auxquels on s’adresse via les médias sociaux, et l’autre concernant (encore et toujours) la vie privée. Et comme on pourrait s’y attendre, ces deux problématiques sont liées.

Le jour du lancement de Buzz, coup de fil d’un journaliste, ancien camarade d’études, qui me pose une question tout à fait pertinente: y a-t-il encore de la place pour un nouvel acteur face à Twitter et Facebook? Oui, clairement, il y a de la place. Il y a de la place, parce que l’élément déterminant dans les médias sociaux, plus que la technologie, c’est la communauté. Les gens sur Twitter ne sont pas les mêmes que les gens sur Facebook, et ceux-ci sont encore différent de ceux qui vont utiliser Buzz.

C’est la façon dont se construit notre monde dans les médias sociaux: des publics différents dans des endroits différents, mais qui se recouvrent partiellement. Du coup, on ne parle pas aux mêmes personnes via Facebook, Twitter, ou Buzz — même si certains essaient de tout centraliser-harmoniser-uniformiser en synchronisant leurs mises à jour sur tous ces services.

C’est ces publics différents qui ont été à la base d’une levée de boucliers assez immédiate et violente à l’encontre de Google Buzz, dans les jours qui ont suivi sa mise en service. En effet, Google Buzz propose de “peupler” votre liste de personnes “à suivre” en se basant sur les personnes avec qui vous chattez et correspondez le plus souvent.

Ça peut paraître une bonne idée a priori (ces personnes sont effectivement probablement des personnes importantes de votre monde) mais il y a un gros hic: Google Buzz est public, alors que nos conversations par e-mail ou par chat ne le sont clairement pas. Est-ce qu’on a vraiment envie d’exposer aux yeux du monde entier quelles sont les personnes avec lesquelles on chatte et on e-maile le plus? Probablement pas. (Pour ma part, j’ai été proprement horrifiée quand j’ai découvert que ma liste de “contacts proches” avait ainsi été rendue publique à l’insu de mon plein gré… enfin, pas vraiment à mon insu, car j’ai cliqué “OK”, mais je ne m’étais vraiment pas rendu compte de ce que je faisais!)

Heureusement, Google est à l’écoute, et a réagi rapidement à ces soucis de confidentialité en modifiant les réglages par défaut de Buzz.

Une source de confusion, à mon avis, est l’emplacement de Google Buzz. Eh oui, dans votre boîte de réception e-mail! Si c’est pas mélanger le public et le privé, ça, je ne sais pas ce qui l’est. Il faudra s’attendre à bien des confusions, comme après les changements dans la politique de confidentialité de Facebook, où l’on verra des internautes innocemment partager avec le monde entier des informations qu’ils destinaient à un public bien plus restreint… un des éternels problèmes d’internet.

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Suis-je toujours l'amie de mes amis? [fr]

Suis-je toujours l'amie de mes amis? [fr]

[en] I write a weekly column for Les Quotidiennes, which I republish here on CTTS for safekeeping.

Chroniques du monde connecté: cet article a été initialement publié dans Les Quotidiennes (voir l’original).

Les réseaux sociaux sont asymétriques.

Je ne parle pas des réseaux sociaux en ligne, mais bien des réseaux de relations et de gens, les vrais réseaux que les sites comme Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn et autres cherchent à modéliser.

A mon sens, la grande majorité de ces sites nous proposent un modèle de relations comportant une erreur fatale: les liens entre les gens y sont symétriques, alors que ce n’est pas le cas dans la réalité.

Pensez aux gens qui font partie de votre monde: il y a fort à parier que vous trouverez sans difficulté des personnes qui sont plus importantes pour vous que vous pour elles — et vice-versa. On aimerait, idéalement, que les gens que l’on aime nous aiment autant en retour, que ceux que l’on admire nous admirent en retour, que ceux que l’on enrichit par notre présence nous enrichissent pareillement en retour. Mais souvent, et à des degrés divers, ce n’est pas le cas.

Et dans le monde professionnel, encore moins.

Pour qu’un lien soit établi entre deux utilisateurs de Facebook ou LinkedIn, chacun doit l’approver. Chacun doit dire “oui, je le veux”.

Du coup, un tel réseau social ne capture que les relations symétriques, ou bien (et c’est ce qui a tendance à arriver) fait passer des relations parfois fortement asymétriques pour des relations symétriques, parce qu’au bout d’un moment, on “cède”, et on accepte également comme amis les gens que l’on connaît peu, voire ceux que l’on ne connaît pas mais qui voudraient nous connaître.

Il existe cependant des réseaux sociaux en ligne (ou presque) qui permettent de rendre compte de ces asymétries.

Twitter est celui qui occupe le devant de la scène ces temps. Sur Twitter, vous pouvez suivre qui vous voulez, sans que cette personne doive vous suivre en retour (c’est d’ailleurs ce qui en fait un outil de veille si puissant, bien plus que Facebook).

Dopplr, un service permettant de partager ses déplacements et projets de voyages avec son réseau, vous laisse simplement décider qui peut accéder à votre profil — la réciprocité n’est pas requise.

Plus ancienne, la liste de contacts d’un service de messagerie instantanée permet également l’asymétrie, même si la pratique penche vers la réciprocité: je peux apparaître sur la liste de contacts d’une personne et avoir supprimé celle-ci des miens.

L’ensemble des blogs peut également être considéré comme un immense réseau social peu formalisé, où les “blogrolls” (listes de liens vers d’autres blogs appréciés du blogueur) révélaient les relations entre blogueurs, avant de tomber en désuétude (les blogrolls, pas les blogs).

Plus proche de chacun, peut-être, et pas tout à fait en ligne, la liste de contacts dans son téléphone mobile. Vous avez enregistré mon numéro, mais ce n’est pas pour autant que j’ai le votre.

Facebook, d’un certaine manière, tente de se rattraper avec les “listes d’amis”. Chacun peut maintenant en effet classer ses amis dans diverses listes (qui restent privées) que l’on peut utiliser pour donner ou non accès à certaines parties de son profil. Ainsi, je peux être connectée à Jules, à qui je donnerai le droit de voir tout mon profil, alors que lui ne me donnera qu’un accès limité au sien.

Sans ce genre de subtilité, les réseaux sociaux qui imposent la réciprocité parfaite finissent par devenir invivables avec la multiplication des contacts de tous bords, ce qui amène à leur désertion par ceux qui les faisaient vivre.

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Becoming a Professional Networker: Tags in Address Book OSX Needed! [en]

Becoming a Professional Networker: Tags in Address Book OSX Needed! [en]

[fr] Besoin, de toute urgence: plugin Address Book.app permettant de taguer ses contacts.

For some time now, I’ve been aware that I’m becoming a professional networker. Almost all I do to promote [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net), for example, relies on my reputation and the connections I have to other people.

Now, I’ve never been somebody to collect contacts just for the sake of collecting contacts, but until [LeWeb3 last year](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/12/news-from-leweb3/), I had just been content with butterflying around and stacking business cards somewhere near by desk. At LeWeb3, when I started telling people about Going Solo, I also started realising that the people I met and contacts I made were going to have more importance for my business than before.

And if I’ve learnt something during these last two months, it’s the importance of getting back to people. I’ve figured out how [iGTD and GMail](http://seesmic.com/v/32zdGimgth) can play nice together to help me with that, but it’s not sufficient. I need to keep track of who I’ve asked what, of who can help me with what, who has this or that connection. And yes, I have too many people in my business network to keep everything in my head.

As I explain in the video above, the lovely [Cathy Brooks](http://www.otherthanthat.com/) put me on the right track: use Address Book.app. I don’t really need to keep all the contact details related to a person close at hand (ie, phone number, e-mail, etc.) because I have that in LinkedIn, Facebook, GMail address book, or on business cards. I’m not interested in keeping an exhaustive repository of all the contact details of all the people I’ve met. What I’m interested in, however, is keeping the names of these people somewhere I can attach meaningful information to them.

Where we met. What we talked about. Stuff that’ll help me remember who people are.

So, I started simply adding names (Firstname Lastname) into my OSX address book, along with a few words in the Notes field. The nice thing about the Notes field is that you don’t have to toggle edit mode on to add stuff in the Notes. So, of course, I started using the notes field to tag people. Not too bad (smart folders allow me to “pull out” people with a certain tag) but not great either, because tags get mixed up with notes, and it’s a bit clunky.

Somebody suggested I create a custom “Tags” field (a “Names” type field is fine). Unfortunately, though this looks like a good idea at first, it fails because you have to edit a contact each time you want to add tags. Also, you can’t create a smart folder based on the contents of that field — you need to search through the whole card. Clunky too.

I don’t know how to write Address Book plugins, but I know they exist, and I have an idea for a plugin that would save my life (and probably countless others) and which doesn’t seem very complex to build. If there’s anybody out there listening… here’s a chance to be a hero.

I want a “tag your contacts” plugin for Address Book.app. What would it do? Simple, add a “Tags” field that behaves similarly to the “Notes” field. That would allow me to separate notes and tags — they aren’t quite the same thing, don’t you agree?

In addition to that, the plugin could display a list of all contacts tagged “thisorthat” when you double-clicked the tag. That would be nice.

Does anybody else want this? Does it already exist? Would anybody be willing to build it? (If other people are interested, I’d be willing to suggest we pool some cash to donate to the kind person building this life-saving plugin.)

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Flickr and Dopplr: the Right Way to Import GMail Contacts [en]

Flickr and Dopplr: the Right Way to Import GMail Contacts [en]

[fr] Il est maintenant possible d'importer des contacts depuis GMail (ou Hotmail) sans devoir divulguer son mot de passe, aussi bien chez Flickr que chez Dopplr. Génial!

A few days ago, I saw this (http://twitter.com/mattb/statuses/780694528) soar by:

> Impressed by passwordless import at http://www.flickr.com/impor… – does anyone know if that’s a *public* yahoo API they use? want!

I immediately went to investigate. You see, I have an interest in [social network portability](http://microformats.org/wiki/social-network-portability) (also called [“make holes in my buckets”](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/13/please-make-holes-in-my-buckets/)) — I gave a [talk on SPSNs from a user point of view at WebCamp SNP in Cork](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/videos/35/) recently — and I am also concerned that in many cases, implementations in that direction make generous use of the [password anti-pattern](http://adactio.com/journal/1357) (ie, asking people for the password to their e-mail). It’s high time for [design to encourage responsible behaviour](http://www.disambiguity.com/design-ethics-encouraging-responsible-behaviour/) instead. As the [discussion at WebCamp shows](http://willknott.ie/2008/03/11/why-teach-a-man-to-be-phished/), we all agree that solutions need to be found.

So, what [Matt](http://www.hackdiary.com/) said sounded sweet, but I had to check for myself. (Oh, and Matt builds [Dopplr](http://www.dopplr.com/), in case you weren’t sure who he was.) Let me share with you what I saw. It was nice.

Go to [the Flickr contact import page](http://www.flickr.com/import/people/) if you want to follow live. First, I clicked on the GMail icon and got this message.

Flickr: Find your friends

I clicked OK.

Flickr and Google

This is a GMail page (note the logged in information upper right), asking me if Flickr can access my Google Contacts, just this one time. I say “yes, sure”.

Flickr: Finding my friends

Flickr goes through my GMail contacts, and presents me with a list:

Flickr: Found your friends

There is of course an “add all” option (don’t use it unless you have very few contacts), and as you can see, next to each contact there is a little drop down which I can use to add them.

Flickr: Contacts

When I’m done adding them, Flickr asks me if I want to send e-mail invites — which I don’t.

Neat, isn’t it?

Well, the best news about this is that Flickr isn’t alone. Dopplr (remember Matt?) [does the same thing](http://www.dopplr.com/account/invitations_via/gmail) — and also [for Windows Live Hotmail](http://blog.dopplr.com/2008/04/07/import-your-contacts-from-windows-live-hotmail/) now.

DOPPLR: Passwordless GMail contact import

*Note and question mark: I just saw [Dopplr announced GMail password-free import back in March](http://blog.dopplr.com/2008/03/18/easier-gmail-contact-import-without-passwords/), before [Matt’s tweet](http://twitter.com/mattb/statuses/780694528). Did Dopplr do it before Flickr? Then, what was the tweet about? Thoroughly chronologically confused. Anyway, passwordless import of GMail contacts rocks. Thanks, guys.*

**Update:** Thanks for the chronology, Matt (see his comment below). So basically, Matt’s tweet was about the fact that though GMail and Hotmail allows services like Dopplr and Flickr to access contacts without requiring a password, Yahoo doesn’t. Flickr does it from your Yahoo account because they have special access. So, Yahoo, when do we get a public API for that?

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News from LeWeb3 [en]

News from LeWeb3 [en]

[fr] Je suis à la conférence LeWeb3, et pour une fois, je ne suis pas en train de bloguer les sessions. Je suis ici pour une autre raison: entamer des discussions avec des sponsors potentiels pour la conférence-événement que j'organise début mai. Je vous dirai plus à ce sujet dans un futur billet, mais si vous me voyez au Web3, n'hésitez pas à venir me demander, je vous en parle volontiers!

This is going to be a quick and dirty posting. Lock up your sheep and warn Grandma.

The reason you haven’t seen much liveblogging from LeWeb3 is that I haven’t really been attending the sessions. To be honest, not many seemed that interesting to me (I’m aware, this year, that I’m not the target audience, so that’s OK with me). But aside from that, this is the first time I’m coming to an event with an explicit goal other than “watch interesting talks” and “catch up with friends and make new ones”.

Remember, some time back, when I told you I was [starting a company](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/11/13/im-starting-a-company/)? Well, things are starting to warm up and take shape. I’ll blog about it in more detail (probably on the train going back home this evening), of course, but here’s a tidbit for those of you I haven’t yet had a chance to speak about it directly.

LeWeb3 2007 marks the beginning of my discussions with companies interested in sponsoring the event that I will be holding early May. And so far, honestly, I’m really excited about how people have reacted (potential partners *and* attendees). But as I said, more details in a bit.

Back to LeWeb3: first of all, I’d like to say I wasn’t really planning on attending as I had been quite disappointed with last year, but following the [nasty things I said about the event last year](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/12/le-web-3-et-sarko/), Loïc kindly invited me to come and see for myself that he wasn’t going to do “les mêmes conneries” twice in a row (his words) ;-). So, thanks for the invite, and here are a few complaints and praises.

– The wifi was flakey yesterday, though not as bad as last year. I had a bit of trouble logging on right now, but finally made it. – The food is delicious, as it was last year. I think a buffet for lunch is a really good idea.
– I didn’t like the first rows being reserved for the press — it did eliminate any impulse I might have had to liveblog.
– I like the venue. The lobby is arranged carefully, with enough small tables to fill in the empty space and encourage people to congregate.
– Shuttle bus: great. Really.
– Badges with information printed on one side only. Really. Stop doing that, conference organisers. Specially if the hangy-thing for the badge is meant to swirl around.
– Good to have video of talks in the networking area. I can write this post and keep an eye on it so I don’t miss [Doc Searls](http://www.searls.com/). (You don’t want to miss Doc. Or [David](http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/).)

Don’t hesitate and come up to speak to me, specially if you’d like to sponsor my event (I’ll tell you all about it). I’m **not** [suffering from conference overload and oversocialisation right now](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/10/06/too-many-people/) and quite happy to network and chat.

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Quechup = spammeurs [fr]

Quechup = spammeurs [fr]

[en] If you get invitations to join Quechup, don't. They will spam your whole address book without asking you for permission.

Si, comme moi, vous recevez dans votre boîte trois ou quatre invitations provenant de personnes que vous connaissez (bien ou moins bien) à rejoindre le réseau social Quechup, **n’y touchez pas! ils spammeront tous les contacts de votre carnet d’adresse sans vous demander votre avis!**

**Voici ce qui se passe**: vous vous inscrivez, imaginant qu’un de vos amis vous recommande le service. Ensuite, comme vous commencez à en avoir l’habitude, Quechup vous propose de regarder dans votre carnet d’adresses pour voir si des contacts à vous sont déjà inscrits au réseau.

Vous donnez donc votre adresse et votre mot de passe pour que Quechup aille regarder, confiant que le service, comme d’autres que vous connaissez, vous proposera une liste de noms déjà inscrits que vous pourrez ajouter à vos contacts, et vous permettra aussi si vous le désirez d’inviter par e-mail certaines de vos connaissances.

**Erreur!** sitôt en possession de votre carnet d’adresses, Quechup envoie aussi sec une invitation à **toutes les personnes qui s’y trouvent**, sans que vous puissiez l’en empêcher.

Donc: Quechup => poubelle.

Si vous vous êtes fait prendre, premièrement ne vous donnez pas trop de coups de pied, [d’autres s’y sont fait prendre](http://technorati.com/search/quechup) (et pas des moindres, parfois, comme [Hugh McLeod](http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/004119.html)). Et deuxièmement, avertissez vos contacts (via mail ou blog) de ne pas donner suite à la jolie invitations personnalisée qu’ils viennent de recevoir de votre part… avant qu’il ne soit trop tard!

Empêchez le fléau Quechup de se répandre!

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Groups, Groupings, and Taming My Buddy List. And Twitter. [en]

Groups, Groupings, and Taming My Buddy List. And Twitter. [en]

[fr] Long, long billet sur la notion de "groupe" en social software et les différentes formes que peut prendre cette notion. Trop raide pour traduire ou résumer, navrée.

*Warning: very long post. Not proof-read. Hope it makes sense. Mostly dictated, so if you see funky stuff that isn’t a typo and really looks weird, try reading out loud.*

“Group” is a word which is thrown around a lot in the social software/social tools/social networking/social thingy arena. Flickr has [groups](http://www.flickr.com/help/groups/). Google has [groups](http://groups.google.com/). So does [Yahoo!](http://groups.yahoo.com/), of course. CoComment is [working on groups](http://raphaelbriner.electronlibre.com/?p=89#comment-42) (and have been for ages). Twitter is [being advised against them](http://twitter.com/missrogue/statuses/49364082) (I [second that](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/49408962)). [YouTube](http://www.youtube.com/groups_main), [Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=17), [Orkut](http://www.orkut.com/), [Last.fm](http://www.last.fm/help/faq/?category=Groups#1012) — “groups” seem to be a compulsory feature for any 2.0 service today. It’s very natural, too: we need to break down large communities in order to be able to function within them (see [The Dunbar Number as a Limit to Group Sizes](http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html) for some thinking around this issue). Unfortunately, it’s also a result of all the 2.0 “community” buzz stuff floating around: “implement groups, and your tool/app will have communities!”

Like many overused words, “group” is actually used in different contexts to mean different things, and this brings about quite a lot of confusion. “How to implement groups” is a theme that I’ve had a few exchanges about with both the coComment and the Twitter people, and I think it’s an impossible question to answer unless we have cleared up the vocabulary a little to start with.

I would like to distinguish between three types of “groups”, which are often all called “groups”, but which have different characteristics and different uses:

– “groups” or “shared-interest groups” (“Flickr-groups”)
– “groupings” (“ad hoc assemblages of people with similar interests” — Stowe Boyd)
– “contact groups” (organising my contacts)

#### Shared-Interest Groups

This is usually what people think of when they say “group”. It is a set of people who come together to (hopefully) form a community around a shared interest. Usually, one chooses to join such groups. Belonging to the group gives you some kind of special connection to other members (which you might not know, but you now have one thing in common with), and allows you to “do things” you would not be able to do if you were outside the group. (For exemple: send a message to all the people in the group, or post a photo to a shared album.)

Typical examples of this kind of group are Yahoo! Groups or Flickr Groups. People join these groups to be able to build something, share something, or simply hang out with the other members of the group. However, if you look at the way people use this kind of group in communities which are more “social networking”-oriented, like Facebook or Orkut, you will see that they tend to not be that active *inside* the groups, but that they use them a bit like “tags” to advertise their interests. These groups are therefore not only a way of connecting with other people, but also a way of saying something about yourself. And in some communities, the latter is clearly more important.

#### Groupings

Shared-interest groups are a bit limited when it comes to making your application truly “social”, as I heard Stowe Boyd point out during his [Building Social Applications Workshop](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/stowe-boyd-building-social-applications/) at the LIFT conference earlier this year. Now, I’ve been through Stowe’s blog to try to serve you with a nice citation that explains exactly what he means by “groupings”, and haven’t really found anything that satisfied me. (As far as I can see, Stowe first talks about groupings in [In The Time Of “Me First”: IBM Slowr?](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/01/in_the_time_of_.html), and explains a bit more in [In The Time Of “Me-First”: Stikkit](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/01/in_the_time_of__1.html).)

Here’s the definition Stowe gives in [his workshop slideshow, slide 24](http://www.slideshare.net/stoweboyd/building-social-applications):

> Groupings: ad hoc assemblages of people with similar interests.

Stowe Boyd

As I understand it, groupings are things that “happen” rather than things that people elect to join or build. Groupings emerge within a social network because of the way people are using it. Groupings are things that occur naturally and all the time inside networks, but the tricky part will be to decide which groupings to make visible to the users and how.

The first time I really encountered this type of automatic grouping of users based on their behaviour was in Last.fm. Last.fm tells you who your “[neighbours](http://www.last.fm/help/faq/?category=User+Profiles#10113)” are, by picking out people who have similar music-listening habits as yours. So, in last FM, not only can you see [my contacts or “friends”](http://www.last.fm/user/Steph-Tara/friends/), people **I have elected to be connected to** in some way in the online world of last FM even though our musical tastes may have little in common, but you can also see [my neighbours](http://www.last.fm/user/Steph-Tara/neighbours/), people I probably do not know and definitely **have not chosen to be connected to**, but which I am inevitably connected to because we share similar musical tastes.

Isn’t this a more interesting way of interconnecting people than having them explicitly join groups saying “I like this or that artist”? CoComment also has a [neighbours feature](http://www.cocomment.com/you/community) (I like to think that I’m for something in its existence, as it was one of the first suggestions I made and pushed for about a year ago), but unfortunately you can’t see other people’s neighbours or do much with your neighbourhood. The value groupings will add to your tool or service will depend greatly on which groupings you decide to make visible to your users, what doors being part of a given grouping opens up for the user, basically, what you choose to **do** with these groupings (display them? Nice, but not enough in most cases).

With all this in mind, if you are trying to figure out “the best way to implement groups” for your application/tool /2.0 service, here is what I would recommend. Start by taking a long hard look at how your application already organises users into possible groupings. What can you make visible? What is interesting? What doors could you open to people who are inside the same grouping? What are your users going to want to do with these groupings?

Some examples of groupings could be:

– people who have listened to a particular song regularly over the last six months
– people who favourite my photographs on Flickr
– people who subscribe to a given blog
– people who have commented on a given post or blog
– people who have marked me as a contact
– people who use a given tag
– people who comment on posts or photographs tagged “cat”
– people who ordered this or that book on Amazon
– people who have been marked as a contact by somebody
– people who have joined a certain group…

As you can see, the definition of “grouping” is much wider than the definition of “group”. “Groups” are a small subset of “groupings”, which have a performative flavour, as you become part of them by the simple act of stating that you desire to be part of them.

The example before last is a little bit problematic in my sense. Most of the time, a user ends up belonging to a grouping because of the way he or she uses the system. It is your actions which make you part of a grouping. Here, you are not part of a grouping because of something you have done, but because of what somebody else has done to you (added you to her contacts). I have been hesitant for this reason to consider “being somebody’s contact” as a grouping, but if you look at it from the point of view of the social network, it is still a way in which “usage” organisers to people who are part of the network.

The existence of these “passive groupings” (from the point of view of the user who is part of the grouping) invites us to go through the looking-glass and examine what goes on from the perspective of the user creating the groupings by making his connection to other users explicit.

#### Contact Groups

I hope that we have now come to accept that networks are asymmetrical. It is not because I have marked you as a contact, that you have to mark me back as a contact too. I think that a great source of confusion is the [general use of the word “friend” in social networks](http://www.thomaspurves.com/2007/02/27/are-we-really-friends-the-trouble-with-buddy-lists-in-social-applications/). There is an emotional component in there that makes it rather difficult to say “well, you might think I’m your friend, but I don’t.” Friendship is supposed to go both ways. “Contact” is a much more neutral word, which is easily understood as meaning “you are, in some way, part of my world here.”

“In what way?” is the big question here. In what way is John part of my world? In what way am I part of his, if at all? I will leave the second of these two questions completely aside in this discussion, for I consider it to be a psychological, emotional, and relational minefield. In our offline relationships, we don’t usually get to know exactly how important we are for our friends or acquaintances, or even love interests. We are treading on eggs, here. And to make things even more delicate, different people use different words to describe the people who are part of their world. These are, in my opinion, human relational issues which are way too delicate to be formalised in a social network without a lot of serious thinking, if they are to be respectful of people’s feelings and meaningful in any way.

The first question, however, is a crucial one. I personally think that it is also the key to managing many privacy issues intelligently. How do I organise the people in my world? Well, of course, it’s fuzzy, shifting, changing. But if I look at my IM buddy list, I might notice that I have classified the people on it to some point: I might have “close friends”, “co-workers”, “blog friends”, “offline friends”, “IRC friends”, “girlfriends”, “ex-clients”, “boring stalkers”, “other people”, “tech support”… I might not want to make public which groups my buddies belong to, or worse, let them know (especially if I’ve put them in “boring stalkers” or “tech support” and suspect that they might have placed me in “best friends” or “love interests”… yes, human relationships can be complicated…)

[Flickr](http://www.flickr.com/help/contacts/) offers a half-baked version of this. I say “half-baked” because it does allow me to introduce *some* organisation in my contacts, but it is not quite satisfying. And regarding what has been said above, this classification is made public — so inevitably, there is no way that it can be satisfying to the person making the classification. It has to remain politically correct. Basically, what Flickr does is allow you to single out certain contacts as “friends” or “family”. This is tame enough, particularly given that the word “friend” has been emptied of much of its meaning by social networks which use it as a synonym for “contact”. What is interesting here is how Flickr uses this classification to help users manage privacy. I can make certain photographs visible only to my friends or my family. I can decide to allow only my contacts to comment. But this kind of control remains quite coarse, because the groups are predefined and may not map well to the way I view my social world and want to manage my privacy.

A more useful way to let a user organise his contacts is simply to let him tag them. [Xing](https://www.xing.com/) does that. Unfortunately, it does not allow one to do much with the contact groups thus defined, besides displaying contacts by tag, which is of course nice, but about as useful as making groupings visible without actually *doing* anything with them.

#### Use more precise vocabulary than “group”

Have you noticed how I’ve been using the word “groups” to speak of this way of classifying one’s contacts? Well, instant messaging software uses the word “group” (“buddy groups”, “contact groups”), and that’s what people are used to. Now, imagine the confusion if somebody says “[Twitter](http://twitter.com) needs groups”, meaning “contact groups”, and the person listening understands it as “shared-interest groups”? **These are two very different kinds of groups. They are organised differently and serve a different purpose.** See why I think we need to stop speaking about “groups” in general and be much more precise with our vocabulary?

– **Shared-interest groups** are groupings that we actively choose to be part of, they are generally public, or at the least, we know who the other members are, and the point of **being part of such a shared-interest group** is to be able to do certain things with the other members, or get to know them.
– **Contact groups** (normally) passive groupings that somebody puts us into, they are generally private, to the extent that one does not know exactly what grouping one is in, and the interest of such contact groups is mainly **for the person creating them**, who can choose to treat the people inside them differently (mainly regarding privacy).
– **Groupings**, defined by Stowe Boyd as ad hoc assemblages of people with similar interests, can actually be understood as a very generic expression, including the two previous ones, to refer to “ad hoc assemblages of people emerging through social network/software/tool usage.” When it is one’s actions which bring him/her into a grouping, we can speak of “active groupings”, and when it is another’s actions, “passive groupings”.

One could probably say that the way in which a social application implements groupings (which are made visible and how, and which actions, features, permissions or characteristics are associated to them) — shared interest groups and contact groups being two particular species of groupings — is going to play an important role in how successful it is, because groupings in general are the key through which users will interact with each other.

Maybe somebody could start working on a taxonomy of sorts for groupings? We already have active and passive, the weird performative ones that are the similar-interest groups, all the contact group stuff, but we could imagine classifying and analysing groupings by looking at what brings one into a grouping: is it interaction of some type with other users? Quantity of something? Centred around one object, or a collection of objects? Is there a time component? Does it involve reciprocity? What kind of pattern of usage is it linked to? We could go on, and on…

#### Case-study: Twitter

Even though this post has been ripening in my head (ew!) since February, the reason I am writing it today is the following twitter from [Tara Hunt](http://horsepigcow.com):

> Advising Twitter (Britt) AGAINST groups (gameable/spammable) and FOR personal lists (solves group messaging)

twitter from Tara

I have [blogged about Twitter](http://technorati.com/tag/twitter?from=climbtothestars.org) quite a few times already, spoken with the Twitter people [when I was in San Francisco](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/12/im-really-liking-san-francisco/) and sent them a bunch of feedback and ideas that I haven’t got around to blogging yet (I wonder when I will). This should make pretty obvious that I really really like this service. (So that’s the disclaimer: fangirl.)

If you’re still reading this, your head is probably full of groupings/similar-interest groups/contact groups ideas and concepts. Let’s see how they apply to Twitter. The nice thing about Twitter is that it’s a rather simple application, feature-wise (and that’s one of the things that makes it so nice). So, where are the groupings? Here are some:

– users who are friends with John
– users John is friends with (not the same grouping!)
– users John is following (still another grouping, because of the distinction twitter makes between friends/contacts and the act of “following”)
– users who are following John but he is not following (fans/stalkers, depending on how you look at it)
– users who answer John’s twitters (with @John)
– users who use the word “LIFT07” in their twitters
– …

What makes Twitter great? Well, besides the great online/offline integration through the use of mobile phones, the clean, usable interface, the great people using it and the cats in the servers, one of the things that makes Twitter Twitter (if I may say) is what it does with the grouping “users John is friends with”. Well, it’s pretty simple, in fact, and you’ll probably think I’m pointing out the obvious (but that, in my mind, simply indicates how good a job Twitter have done with it): they display all the twitters of those users in that grouping on one page. Well, yeah, I guess that was the [Obvious](http://obvious.com/) thing to do with that grouping.

Amongst the other types of groupings, one can wonder if Twitter needs to introduce similar-interest groups, or contact groups. I don’t see much of a case for the former, as Twitter is centred around people and relationships rather than the content of their interactions. Twitter is not really about what I’m saying to people. It’s about who I’m talking to. Twitter is precious because it gives me a space in which I can share a little things about my life with anybody who has decided that these little things had some value to them (and that can include non-Twitter users). Twitter it is equally precious because it provides me with a space (and this is where the “what they actually *did* with that grouping” thing comes in) through which I can stay informed of the little things in lives of others that I have decided were meaningful for me.

Which brings me to contact groups. Contact groups could have two purposes for twitter:
– privacy management
– twitter overflow management, particularly on mobile devices.

Without getting into the technicalities involved (and I’m aware they are not straightforward), let’s imagine that I can tag my Twitter contacts. This allows me to give some structure to my online world in Twitter. I can use that structure in two ways: make certain messages visible only to certain people I have chosen (privacy), receive messages on a given device only from certain people (overflow).

Tagging is the best way to create these contact groups. It leaves each user completely free to organise their world how they wish. It allows multiple classification of contacts. Keep the tags private, and personal dramas are avoided. Multiple classification requires establishing rules for when conflicting orders are given. Interfaces (web and mobile) need to be devised to tag contacts, to set message privacy (default, message by message, on/off style), and following behaviour. Not straightforward, of course, but can certainly be done.

Remains the basic question: does this kind of feature address a real need? (For me, it does.) How is it going to change Twitter if it is implemented? (If this can be predicted…) What might happen if it is not implemented? Well, you know, the usual stuff when making a decision.

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Please Make Holes in My Buckets! [en]

Please Make Holes in My Buckets! [en]

[fr] Tour d'horizon de mes différents "profils" à droite et a gauche dans le paysage des outils sociaux (social tools). Il manque de la communication entre ces différents services, et mon identité en ligne s'en trouve fragmentée et lourde à gérer. Ajouter des contacts en se basant sur mon carnet d'adresses Gmail est un bon début, mais on peut aller plus loin. Importer ses livres préférés ou des éléments de CV d'un profil à l'autre, par exemple.

[Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503315010) is [Stowe](http://stoweboyd.com/message)’s fault. [Twitter](http://twitter.com/stephtara) was because of [Euan](http://theobvious.typepad.com/). [Anne Dominique](http://annedominique.wordpress.com/) is guilty of getting me on [Xing/OpenBC](https://www.xing.com/profile/Stephanie_Booth). I can’t remember precisely for [Flickr](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny) or [LinkedIn](http://www.linkedin.com/in/sbooth) or — OMG! — [orkut](http://www.orkut.com/Profile.aspx?uid=7955153206158244373), but it was certainly somebody from [#joiito](http://joiwiki.ito.com/joiwiki/index.cgi?IrcChannel). The culprits for [Last.fm](http://www.last.fm/user/steph-tara), [DailyMotion](http://dailymotion.com/Steph) and [YouTube](http://youtube.com/profile?user=Steph “Even got there early enough to grab ‘steph’ — now I get password reminders almost everyday, great…”) have disappeared into the limbo of lost memories. [Kevin](http://epeus.blogspot.com) encouraged me to [sign up for a good dozen of blogging platforms](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/12/11/hosted-blog-platform-test-write-up/), open a [MySpace account](http://myspace.com/stephtara), and he’s probably to blame for me being on [Upcoming](http://upcoming.org/user/94465/). As for [wordpress.com](http://steph.wordpress.com), I’ll blame [Matt](http://photomatt.net) because he’s behind all that.

Granted, I’m probably the only one responsible for having [gotten into blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/about/ “Story here, abbreviated version.”) in the first place.

Let’s get back on track. My aim here is not primarily to point an accusing finger to all my devious friends who introduced me to these fun, [addictive](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/12/addicted-to-technology/), time-consuming tools (though it’s interesting to note how one forgets those things, in passing). It’s more a sort of round-up of a bunch of my “online selves”. I feel a little scattered, my friends. Here are all these buckets in which I place stuff, but there aren’t enough holes in them.

Feeds are good. Feeds allow me to have Twitter, [del.icio.us](http://del.icio.us/steph), Flickr, and even Last.fm stuff in my blog sidebar. It also allows me to connect my blogs to one another, and into Facebook. Here, though, we’re talking “content” much more than “self”.

One example I’ve already certainly talked about (but no courage to dig it out, my blog is starting to be a huge thing in which I can’t find stuff I know it contains) is contacts or buddies — the “Mine” in [Stowe’s analysis of social applications](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/stowe-boyd-building-social-applications/). I have buddy lists on IM and Skype, contacts on Flickr and just about every service I mentioned in this post. Of *course*, I don’t want to necessarily have the same contacts everywhere. I might love your photos on Flickr and add you as a contact, but not see any interest in adding you to my business network on LinkedIn. Some people, though — my **friends** — I’ll want to have more or less everywhere.

So, here’s a hole in the buckets that I really like: I’ve seen this in many services, but the first time I saw it was on Myspace. “Let us peek in your GMail contacts, and we’ll tell you who already has an account — and let you invite the others.” When I saw that, it scared me (“OMG! Myspace sticking its nose in my e-mail!”) but I also found it really exciting. Now, it would be even better if I could say “import friends and family from Flickr” or “let me choose amongst my IM buddies”, but it’s a good start. Yes, there’s a danger: no, I don’t want to spam invitations to your service to the 450 unknown adresses you found in my contacts, thankyouverymuch. [Plaxo](http://www.plaxo.com/) is a way to do this (I’ve seen it criticised but I can’t precisely remember why). Facebook does it, which means that within 2 minutes you can already have friends in the network. Twitter doesn’t, which means you have to painstakingly go through your friends of friends lists to get started. I think [coComment](http://cocomment.com) and any “friend-powered” service should allow us to import contacts like that by now. And yes, sure, privacy issues.

But what about all my **profile information**? I don’t want to have to dig out my favourite movies each time I sign up to a new service. Or my favourite books. Or the schools I went to. I mean, some things are reasonably stable. Why couldn’t I have all that in a central repository, once and for all, and just have all these neat social tools import the information from there? Earlier today, [David](http://galipeau.blogspot.com/) was telling me over IM that he’d like to have a central service to bring all our Facebook, LinkedIn, OpenBC/Xing, and MySpace stuff together. Or a way to publish his CV/résumé online and allow Facebook to access it to grab data from it. Good ideas, in my opinion.

I’ll mention [OpenID](http://openid.net/) here, but just in passing, because although in my dreams in used to hold the promise of this centralised repository of “all things me”, I don’t think that it’s what it has been designed for (if I get it correctly, it is identity **verification** and doesn’t have much to do with the **contents** of this identity). [Microformats](http://microformats.org) could on the other hand certainly come in handy here.

So, please, make more holes in my buckets. Importing Gmail contacts in sticking feeds here and there is nice, but not sufficient. For the moment, Facebook seems promising. But let me use Twitter for my statuses, for example, or at least include the feed somewhere (I can only include one feed, so I’ve included my [suprglu one](http://steph.suprglu.com/), but it has a huge lag and is not very satisfying). Let me put photographs in my albums directly from Flickr. Talk with the profiles I made with other similar services. Grab my school and work info from LinkedIn and OpenBC. Then make all this information you have about me available to republish how I want it (feeds, feeds, feeds! widgets! buttons! badges!) where I want it.

Also, [more granularity](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/12/you-should-twitter/). Facebook has a good helping of it: I can choose which type of information I want to see from my contacts. I can restrict certain contacts from seeing certain parts of my profile. I’d like fine control on who can see what, also by sorting my people into “buddy groups”. “Friends” and “Family” as on Flickr is just not enough. And maybe Facebook could come and present me with [Stowe-groupings](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/stowe-boyd-building-social-applications/) of my contacts, based on the interactions I have with them.

Share your wild ideas here if you have any.

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Nokia 6280 compatible Mac :-) [fr]

Nokia 6280 compatible Mac :-) [fr]

[en] Nokia 6280 seems nicely compatible with OSX.

Faut que je passe annoncer la bonne nouvelle à MobileZone: mon [nouveau téléphone](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/09/01/banalites-shopping-en-ville/) (Nokia 6280) paraît joliment compatible Apple. Je découvre les joies de la synchronisation sous OSX avec mon MacBook: il faut brancher le câble (j’ai aussi relié les deux par Bluetooth, pas certaine que ce soit nécessaire), et sur le téléphone, choisir mode de connection par défaut pour le câble USB.

On peut ensuite synchroniser contacts (depuis Address Book) et calendrier (iCal).

Concernant le calendrier, j’utilise [Google Calendar](http://google.com/calendar) depuis un moment. C’est joli et on peut y accéder de partout à condition qu’il y ait un ordinateur connecté à internet à disposition. L’idéal serait de pouvoir synchroniser mon téléphone avec gCal, mais ce n’est pas encore vraiment possible (quoique… quelqu’un a le courage de tester [GCalSync](http://www.gcalsync.com/)?). Voici comment je m’en sors:

– je m’abonne dans iCal à mes calendriers Google (en read-only)
– j’ai un troisième calendrier dans iCal que j’appelle “Phone”
– dans les réglages de synchronisation, j’importe les événements créés avec le téléphone dans ce calendrier
– de temps en temps, je l’exporte d’iCal, l’importe dans gCal, et transfère les événements sur les bons calendriers gCal (avant de vider le calendrier “Phone” dans iCal. A la synchronisation suivante, tout rentre dans l’ordre.

En choisissant le mode “Stockage de données”, on peut voir dans Finder le contenu de la carte Mini-SD. Du coup, voici la première photo publiée avec cet appareil:

Desktop

Si vous allez voir [la version originale de la photo](http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=231716309&size=o), vous verrez que les bords sont un peu imprécis. Trop de compression ou bien (gasp!) zoom numérique à l’insu de mon plein gré?

PS: si vous n’avez pas encore de compte [Flickr](http://flickr.com), c’est le moment de vous en faire un. C’est gratuit.

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