Why ‘Friending’ Will Be Obsolete

Every few days, (or hours) you probably get a friend request of some sort, the good news is, someday, this will not be relevant.

I just got finished watching this video of Renato of “E”, a device and software platform that allows you to phsyically gesture in the real world with people you meet that you are friends. Remember palm pilot back in 2001 that let you ‘beam’ contact info to each other? Similiar to that, but now with more ‘social’ context.

Thinking forward a few years, “friending people” whether in Facebook, Plaxo, or will no longer be an activity that we’ll have to do. Intelligent websites (and their data) will be able to determine who our friends are from our behaviors, context, and preferences, without us verbally (or physically) having to indicate so.

Those ‘bacn’ messages make it painfully obvious that the ‘system’ (the web, data, and beyond) isn’t quite intelligent, as it can’t determine who our own social contacts are yet.

Like a baby, we’re teaching the ‘system’ our language, how to walk, how to coexist in our real flesh and blood world, the ‘system’ is just starting to show intelligence. One primary example of this is the use of hashtags in Twitter. We use the # sign to tag content so it’s easily to organize and find. That one # character isn’t native to our tongue (unless when you recite your grocery list and say “hashtag”) it’s another example of us speaking machine language in order to teach the system.

For example, I started a social experiment on Sunday, where I encouraged folks to tweet related music artists using the tag “#relatedmusic” you can see the database form when you search for that term –If we had enough people do this in my –and your– network we’d be able to build a reference engine that other music reccomendations services could pull from.

Saturday, I posted my thoughts about what’s next after the social web, and some interesting comments are coming in, take the time to read about it. For now, I’m tagging these posts the ‘Intelligent Web” as I don’t really think we’re there yet, we’re having to input too much to teach the machine right now.

If you can’t see where this is headed, I’ll tell you: all of what we’re doing from our clicks, queries, wall posts and tweets is teaching the ‘system’. In the long run we’re creating a massive global computer, an artificial intelligence, and someday, a thinking being.

Therefore, when the ‘system’ is more mature, we won’t have to explicitly state who we’re friends with anyone –it’ll have learned and already know.


Phrases to know:
I’ll refine these over time, but for now, here’s some early stakes in the ground.

The System: The system is the combination of all websites combined, it’s a massive data base of content, clicks, search terms, time on site, shared posts, wall posts, links, and tweets.

Teaching the System: Humans are constantly speaking in machine language, from use of hashtags in twitter, or boolean searches in Google, or even from the act of friending folks in your social network. All of these behaviors are humans teaching the system how to understand us, so it can better serve us.

The Intelligent Web: Software that is able to collect and make sense of all the data in the system and is able to deliver meaningful content back to people in context –often without us saying or gesturing that we need it.

Update: This has spun off to more discussions in Friendfeed, I think a lot of folks missed the big idea I was trying to convey here –or perhaps more likely, I didn’t communicate it well.