Recently in The Web, In General Category

Fan. Or Stalker?

I'll confess, I love social software. Really, I do. I'm on Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Geni, Crowdvine, Ryse, and I can't even think of what else, though I know there are more. I think it's that they all play into the obsessive-compulsive side of my personality; I want to collect you all. What I'll do then, I have no idea. But collect and add and gather I will happily do. And curse under my breath all my friends who are not networked (you know who you are).

Which has gotten me thinking. That's just rather creepy, isn't it? Usually I refrain from "friending" someone that I don't know. (So if I haven't accepted your LinkedIn request, it's probably because I don't remember talking to you at whatever conference we both happened to attend, no offense). I reserve "friend" status to folks that I have a personal connection. Some day I hope there is a site that let's me keep track of that person I chatted with over the appetizer tray at a conference. But at this point, that person just isn't on the same level as the guy I went to elementary school with that I still send Christmas cards to.

There are folks out there that I call "the collectors." These are the folks on Flickr or Twitter that have 5,347 friends. You can see the path by which they have picked you up, cause all your friends (and then some) are also on their list. But they live in some far off locale. What is it that makes these folks collect so many strangers? Is it that they have just activated their OCD centers too much and are out of control?

Which makes me question my own behavior when it comes to these sites. I spend way too much time wandering through Twitter lists of who follows who, looking for people that I know. There are lots of folks that I have heard of, and I think have met, but I wouldn't say that I know them. They are friends of friends, and are on the fringes of my circle. But I doubt they could point me out in a line-up. So, I don't usually add those folks. I don't want to be seen as A Collector.

But there are a few strangers that I have friended. Heather and Jon Armstrong come to mind first. I have met Heather in person, a few times. But it was always in a crowd. I doubt she knows who I am. But I read her's and Jon's blog everyday. I follow them both on Flickr and Twitter. E and I talk about what is going on in their lives, like we do with other friends who live down the street.

I know I always get a little weirded out when I see total strangers are following my Twitters, or someone comes up to me at a conference and says they love my blog and have been reading me for years. *waves to blog readers I don't know* I mean, it's really cool. Wow, someone thinks I'm interesting enough to follow me. Who knew? I'm guess I'm sort of "internet famous." But it's also weird to think that folks I have never met are thinking and talking about what's going on with me and E and the cats.

Of course, it's not weird enough for me to stop. It's kinda a badge of honor to know that people are friending and following you. If you all want to know about the cats, and knitting, and what's going on at Adaptive Path, I'm happy to oblige. Just weird enough for me to stop, and pause, and think "Hey. That would be a good blog post." :)

The Last Mile

--- Originally published on the Adaptive Path Blog ---

I spent this past Holiday week in northern Colorado visiting family and friends. We had great fun and lots of wonderful food, as I hope many did. While I was there, talk turned to the internet and the web, as it is aft to do with my boyfriend and me, and I was struck at the number of people who were on dial-up or had no internet access at all.

Dial-up? I haven't used a modem since, well; I can't remember how long it's been. All the designing and consulting that I do as part of my job assumes a broadband connection. I can't remember the last time a client was concerned about how a site would perform over a 56k modem. With all the Flash, big images and Ajax on sites these days, how slow and painful it must it be to surf the web.

What kind of effect is this going to have in the long term? How many folks will go without because the cost of a satellite connection is prohibitory expensive? How do usage habits change when the only access comes via work or requires a drive to a local library? What kind of cultural divide is growing between those that live and breath the web without even thinking about it and those who can't?

These used to be issues that were often discussed, but I hardly hear about them anymore. I always assumed it was because they were solved, not that they're just being ignored.

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