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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Everything's Relative 

I went to the UIUC Webmasters' Forum yesterday to hear Eric Meyer. His keynote was about social networking and XHTML Friends Network, aka XFN.

It was interesting to me because I'd actually thought about this stuff when I was setting up the blogroll I have over on the left. As you can see, I opted for a 0/1 designation: Blogs I read that belong to either 0) people I've met in real time, or 1) people I have not met in real time.

This arrangement has its problems. For instance, it makes it seem as if I'm 'friends' with David Weinberger, and although he and I have had a few real-time conversations – for example, while sitting across from each other at a dinner table, and while driving in my car to the airport during which time he was gracious enough not to use the Passenger's Imaginary Brake™ (gee, that's almost enough to qualify him as Blindly Trusting Friend) – I'm sure he wouldn't recognize me if he saw me again.

In fact, my blogroll arrangement haphazardly lumps in Weinberger-level acquaintances with co-workers who would be embarrassed to hang with me in public (my being twice their age and all), as well as with someone I've poured out my heart to while we sat together breastfeeding our respective infants over 22 years ago.

So I like the idea of XFN. It appeals to my perverse need to mentally map out various associations convoluted by years of living in this too-small university town. Yet, I can't imagine ever using it: 0/1 is simply easier, if not better, than trying to rate any more levels of friendship. Just the idea of trying to remember to update rel attributes as my relationships evolve – not to mention the perils in deciding at which points a relationship has changed levels – represents a huge potential problem to me personally.

[Next: Living with fewer than 2 degrees of separation and the potential redundancy of rel="date, enemy".]


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