I am waiting for the Dilbert cartoon that goes something like this: Two people pass each other and one says, “we really need to catch up – can I ping you on Facebook, iChat or follow you on Twitter?” The other one says “no, but you can IM me on Yahoo, or connect with me on LinkedIn or hook up on Myspace.” They both look frustrated and then one says, “maybe I should just give you a call sometime.”

The funny thing is, I was fine with “information overload” but “collaboration overload” is tougher. Much tougher. I am nearing 500 friends on Facebook, but I can’t properly interact with 500 people. I guess that is the point, since we all just have a stack of gift cards instead of presents, send ecards instead of writing something, and can keep up with people by following them on social networks, the effort to be “a friend” has gone almost to zero. We have now maximized our friend efficiency…

Frankly, I think Facebook should start tiering like we do with storage. We need tiers like:

  1. BFF (Best friend forever) – I learned that one from my stepdaughter Remie, so I guess it must be really important
  2. Good Friend
  3. Friend
  4. Acquaintance
  5. Person being my friend  to suck up
  6. Person being my friend to sell me something
  7. I don’t know who the hell this person is but they seem to know me and I would feel terrible not friending them

The next level of tiering we need in social networks is Importance. After looking at a recent Facebook “newsfeed” I have begun to feel like my Spam folder has more critical information. How about some tagging on collaboration with tiers like:

  1. This is actually important (example: My wife just had a baby!)
  2. News (example: I got a new job)
  3. Stuff only my mother would only care about (example: I have a cold and need some soup)
  4. Stuff not even my mother cares about (example: I just got off a phone call)

Seriously, the problem with unlimited capability to collaborate and create content is that individuals face a new form of information overload. I am sure this will sort itself out but I have one recommendation: The next time you are standing in a restaurant waiting for a table, instead of tweeting or posting this “critical” information, say hello and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. It will likely be more rewarding and it will also help reduce 500 other people’s collaboration overload!

Mark...

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