| At the Corner of Technology and Culture

Compulsively Social

Recently, I interviewed the journalist Clive Thompson about issues related to social networking websites. He used the evocative phrase “collecting friendds like hockey cards” to describe the casual ‘friend’-gathering that goes on at places like myspace. I thought of that today doing the podcast, when Cathi mentioned a new cell-phone content production company, Digital Chocolate, which is offering socializing opportunities rather than simply repurposed TV shows to watch on your mobile. I thought, are we becoming compulsive socializers? Addicted to the sort of pleasant but ultimately meaningless accumulation of non-demanding relationships? Which brings me to a recent post at Tech Crunch

The website, which tracks developments in Web 2.0 applications, reports on

It’s a site that helps you, surprise, connect with other people, but randomly. To quote Tech Crunch:

“When you register at it randomly introduces you to another member. You have four days to interact with that member via anonymous email to see if you can become friends. If after those four days both people decide they would like to stay friends, they are added to your permanent friends list. You are then introduced to another person.”

Of course, there’s an element of randomness to all our meetings, and to the friendships we have in the real world, but usually there’s at least a show of having the same interests (whether it’s someone you meet at a party, or someone you meet via shared tags at delicious). The only common ground you are going into this with is the ground of being people who would be interested in meeting random people.

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