Signing up for Quora has made me stop and think about whether I live in a connected world. All my friends are online, or at least have an online presence. I have mobile phone numbers and email addresses for my friends, sometimes once, twice over. My friends have presences all over the web, on Facebook and Twitter to name just a few.
Or do they?
I found finding my friends and contacts on Quora quite tough. Admittedly because the service is only beginning to catch fire (or spark at least) but also because my digital connections are nowhere near as complete as I inherently believe they are. With this mind I’ve stopped to harvest my address book, Twitter feed and Facebook friend list to find out where my friends are. How often do I interact with them digitally and in the real world? How easy are they to find and contact? Am I connected?
Am I connected then? In a word, no. My friends are disparate, the contact details I have about them incomplete and inconsistent. This is of course to be expected - like everyone, I have much stronger connections with some friends than others, but some things surprised me:
- For all the different channels available to me, I see some of my friends a shockingly small amount.
- I’ve always known that Facebook is huge (and getting bigger all the time) but having it laid out in front of me is startling. I had no idea that Facebook was *that* busy, especially within my circle of friends.
- If new sites and services and sites rely on importing email addresses to build your profile, they’re doomed. Or at least they are if they're looking at my address book!
Looking at the data above it’s difficult to draw any conclusions about wider connectivity - I have too many friends with a predilection for social media to be useful - but it would be interesting to see where this data joins up the other services I use online (such as Flickr, Instagram and Skype). Is there a better way of connecting these services together seamlessly? Filling the information gaps between connections without sacrificing privacy… Hmm, time for a new service?