Tagging Friends

January 30th, 2008

Social Networking is hot right now. Myspace is huge, facebook is growing super-mega fast, and even Google is backing open standards with OpenSocial (tho, not perfect).

Tagging is also a somewhat new (few years old). You can tag photos (flickr), tag websites/blogs (digg, del.icio.us, technorati, furl, etc) .. why not tag friends? Specifically, I have different circles of friends, some friends overlap, and would love to be able to group them more effectively than i can today. Examples

  • babysitters
  • coworkers
  • work project A
  • work project B
  • lunch friends
  • church friends
  • hiking friends
  • drinking buddies
  • college friends
  • star trek fans
  • DJ/dancing crews

One thing to point out is how this compares to the existing concept of groups on social networking sites. Tagging people with “hiking” is promoting MY view of the world – I get to control who i want to talk to when i want to go hiking. In contrast, a hiking group I join is not my view – I don’t have control on that case. It’s more random, usually controlled by the loudest people (loudest meaning more volume of info and higher frequency), and most likely less personal, therefore a different usage paradigm. But the most important difference is that friends tagged with “hiking” are friends first, hiking people second. Social networking groups are groups first, and may or may not contain friends.

Everybody likes to spend time with friends, so why not change the paradigm to make friends come first?

How would it work? Simple – while looking at profiles on a given social network site, there’s always a section that has “add friend” or “marked as friend”. Around there you could add a tag to that person. Then, on your home page, you could have a friend tag cloud or list of friend tags. You pick a tag and it jumps to a dynamicly created page containing summaries of each person you tagged, with the following options:

  • email – easier to manage than creating new email lists all the time
  • calendar or event planning – requires them all to use the same calendar system so it can find time when all are free .. not easy
  • person summaries, including existing tags (with ability to add/delete here, too), latest posts, pictures, status, …. optionally filtering posts/pics by the current tag (oooo.. advanced)

I’m looking at you, google.