Came across this really informative post via Slashdot, on a Google researcher's presentation on Social networks. 216 slides and worth it. Paul Adams, the author of the piece, has a few compelling ideas that he introduces as part of the pitch - focusing on how Social Networks have got social networking wrong.
Paul starts off by showing how, by their very nature, social networks lump different types of acquaintances together under the umbrella of “friends” creating an inherently awkward atmosphere. By referring to everyone as friends, social networks (*wink* facebook *wink*) ignore the reality that people have distinctly different groups of friends.
Secondly, social networks also do a poor job of differentiating between strong and weak ties. Not everyone in a given group of friends is equally close to us. Instead social networks take the Twitter approach of treating everyone the same - giving rise to overload of trivial updates.
Thirdly, users care about privacy. But privacy is not a two-state concept or private or not private. Instead it is a much more nuanced state of private, public and publicized across different groups and strength of ties.
The entire presentation along with the speaker notes after the break.