As social networks get more media coverage, at least online media coverage, we can probably expect quite a few ‘the sky is falling’ items.

From a Linkedin discussion group – My Linkedin Power Forum – comment I went to check out an article in Business Week Online’s TechBeat blog, with the intriguing title ‘Are Social Networks Broken?’

After a short intro to the concept of social networks, the article poses the question: ‘How do you facilitate social interactions without annoying users, big time?’

Fair enough question – I’m sure that would be a concern of the owners/facilitators of any reputable social network. But watch what happens.

To illustrate the relevance of her question, the author goes on:

Increasingly, social networking sites are being bombarded with complaints. Just check out this post.

The author, Adam Kalsey, talks about how he keeps on getting invites to link up to other members of LinkedIn.com social networking site. The problem is, he has no idea who the people inviting him to join their group are.

So if you are a member of Linkedin, as I am, you might be concerned. But hold on a minute! What does Adam Kalsey actually say in his February 1, 2004 (news?) post? He says

I’ve been invited onto the friends lists on Orkut and LinkedIn by several people that I don’t really know. I know who they are, but I wouldn’t exactly call them my friends.

So he does actually know who they are, but he wouldn’t exactly call them his friends. Hmmm. And, without getting into a lengthy discussion about grammar, how did: ‘I’ve been invited…by several people…’ become ‘…keeps getting invites…’?

I’ve no objection to people criticising, on the basis of sound evidence, the way some Linkedin members might operate – with over 2 million members who would expect every one to behave impeccably? But I think what the TechBeat blogger Olga Kharif, has done, doubtless with the best of intentions, is to exaggerate somewhat the original, seventeen month old observation by Adam Kalsey .

Not fair to Linkedin or to the concept of social networks generally, in my view. It’s what Australian journalists would call ‘a beat up’.

[I notice that my friend Dave Taylor on his highly informative and thought provoking Intuitive Life Business Blog also comments on
the TechBeat piece. He provides some broader contextual observations about social/business networks and comments on his own positive experience of Linkedin.

Des, June 15, 2005]

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