paul adams social network online offline - Social Networking Friends vs. Real Life FriendsWhile many of us use social networking tools differently, most of us struggle with similar questions and challenges.

  • Should I connect only with family and good friends on Facebook and only business contacts on LinkedIn?
  • How secure should I feel when using Facebook’s privacy settings to determine which groups of friends can or cannot see particular photos?
  • Should I be concerned when someone tags me in a photo or I comment on someone else’s post?
  • How can I organize the people I’m connected to so I see updates and news from the people I care about the most?

Social Networking Lines Get Blurred

With the unprecedented growth of Facebook, it has become  the largest social networking platform by far. Even when we start out with one strategy, we can have a hard time sticking to the plan. We may have planned originally to connect only to family and friends, but then our co-workers found us there and we couldn’t really ignore their Friend Request, now could we? And then, there are the other parents in the carpool. And, a few of their kids wanted to become Facebook Friends, too. All of a sudden, our neatly organized idea of how we wanted to compartmentalize our activities online has gone to hell in a hand-basket.

When did things become so complicated? Is this because social networking is new? No, gathering with our friends, sharing news and planning events is not new. I’m sure this has been going on since the early days of humans interacting and forming communities. Doing all of this online is the part that is new and this is where things get really interesting – and a little messy.

The Real Life Social Network

I’m excited to share a thought-provoking presentation about Real Life Social Networks from Paul Adams, a blogger and researcher at Google. The presentation highlights research done to understand how real-life networks work and how current social networking platforms, like Facebook, work with or against these existing relationships.

With the internet abuzz about the rumors, and fairly high likelihood, that Google is hard at work at its own social network, possibly called Google Me, this makes Paul’s take on networking all the more intriguing. Could this be a glimpse into what’s next from Google?

I encourage you to walk through his presentation below. Don’t be intimidated by the large number of slides (216). Many of them are just images and he includes explanations where context is needed. Even if you don’t make it through the entire presentation, you will come to see how moving our offline, or “real world,” networks to an online environment (and then, throwing in a bunch of people we don’t know as well) starts to get complicated. Lots of food for thought here.

Which of his points ring true with you with regard to your own use of social networking? Anything else you’d add?

View more documents from Paul Adams.