Danah Boyd has a great critique of social software networks, Autistic
Social Software, blasting the current generation of this software for
forcing people to behave autistically:
Consider, for a moment, the recent surge of interest in articulated social
networks such as Friendster, Tribe, LinkedIn, Orkut and the like. These
technologies attempt to formalize how people should construct and manage
their relationships. They assume that you can rate your friends. In some
cases, they procedurally direct how people can engage with new people by
giving you an absolute process through which you can contact others.
While this approach certainly has its merits because it is computationally
possible, I'm terrified when people think that this models social life.
It's so simplistic that people are forced to engage as though they have
autism, as though they must interact procedurally. This approach certainly
aids people who need that kind of systematization, but it is not a model
that universally makes sense. Furthermore, what are the implications of
having technology prescribe mechanistic engagement? Do we really want a
social life that encourages autistic interactions?
Autistic Social Software, Danah Boyd