Social Networking: "90% of people don't want to be found."
Last Thursday I participated in a Boston KM Forum panel discussion with BCG's Bob Wolf and Harvard Business School professor Mikolaj Piskorski. Mikolaj, who studies the dynamics of the major social networking applications as part of his research, and who was quoted in today's New York Times story on Friendster, made an interesting observation -- "90% of people who participate in social networking services don't want to be found." They participate for a variety of other reasons -- keeping contact data for friends current, maybe competitive intelligence, a little voyeurism perhaps (this last my interpretation, not Mikolaj's direct comment).
I'm still turning this over in my head, but this clearly has design implications for these services. Mikolaj observed that more attention could usefully be paid to getting people to join networks rather than providing information once they are there, which given this dynamic they won't want to do anyway since it makes them easier to find (for example, via a bio that lists industry or functional experience).