[The story so far… updated headline above, as this is not about FOAF primarily]
1. Marc Canter blogged about why PeopleAggregator supports 7 levels of relationship
2. I commented here (verbatim below):
I know you’re not claiming (merely) that ‘7 levels’ is better than ‘2’, i.e. there’s plenty more that you’re saying or implying (and have said in the past) about the context and semantics of these relationships… HOWEVER, I’m wondering if you could bear to spell it out some more. Say, a “Dummies Guide to Relationship Semantics” or something along those lines! This is NOT about FOAF-parsing and RDF, for which there are already many dummies guides out there… this is an extremely hairy and profound issue, and I have yet to see any social networking system that even remotely captures *ANY* elements of my online or realworld networking relationships. Help!
3. Marc Canter replied in his blog with a nice short Dummies Guide To Relationship Levels, including the helpful (and clearly correct) “I guess you gotta look at it from this POV – what do you DO with these levels? Is there anything expressed in the system which allows/denies you access/communication/etc. – based upon the specific level established between 2 people?”
4. But I was still unhappy. So I posted back the following in his ‘comments’ box… repeated verbatim below:
Yes, what you DO with it, as you say, is everything, and as Bill Seitz says above, ‘specific context’ is crucial! Nevertheless, I still don’t buy it, at least in its present shape, and I don’t think that guide address my concerns (though I appreciate it nonetheless)….
HOWEVER lemme be more constructive rather than just whingeing:
I think your 7 levels are ENTIRELY driven by the “social networking – as – matchmaking” paradigm [and the same is true for business matchmaking, or the AlwaysOn ‘comrade/vendor/prospect/customer’ dimensions, etc], which is an OK paradigm (as far as you can throw it), but I find it deeply unsatisfying.
To put this into specific focus, let’s take YOU AND ME as an example!!!!
Let’s see, what are we…
Know by reputation?
Know in passing?
Don’t know but wanna know?
No way! I don’t think ANY of these fit!!! Maybe ‘know by reputation’, but that’s bending the reality to fit some category I don’t accept in the first place. The reality is that you’re this guy who makes me think a lot, and whose blog is of more interest to me than a few dozen high-priced journals and numerous high-class websites I used to read. You’ll even recall from our first email exchange that I even thought you were somebody else originally! Reputation had nothing to do with it: I read your stuff, and liked what I read, so formed my own [good] opinion…. only finding out later that you had a ‘reputation’ and history too!
Now, a quick look through my buddy lists [why aren’t more of you guys using Jabber… nag, nag], my email contacts, my friends-of-friends on Orkut [my network there just surpassed 50,000 … GIMME A BREAK… what a joke!]… same problem… I’ve got a smattering of relatives, random geezers I respect, workgroup colleagues, conference contacts, research partners, etc: ‘Friendship’, whether strong, weak, near, or far, has almost NOTHING to do with it!! So slicing-and-dicing friendship into more fine-grained levels will still have almost NOTHING to do with it!!
Now maybe I’m a friendless misanthrope… but actually, I’m not!! Or maybe I’m trying to twist and shape a ‘friendship paradigm’ into a ‘more generic network paradigm’, and therefore ‘friendship semantics do not apply’… but I doubt that’s the problem: I’m a long-term net-head, since the olden days, and avid social networker, so I doubt if I’m one of the ‘non-grokkers’ either… I just don’t buy the 7 levels, they don’t come close to categorizing any of the thousands of people I actually network with… so what gives?