Meaningful diversity

I like to have a wide social network but  I often organise mycontacts according to people that I share my core interests with. This helps me keep in touch with their projects  and exchange information regularly. I neverthless like having a wide and diverse social network as I have often had unexpected yet insightful exchanges with someone from outside my core network group.

I am more of a focussed online networker. Some people want to share everything with everyone. I often only post online about things that I feel are pertinent. I guess resilient networks rely on matching people with similar interests while also providing the scope for sharing your thoughts with a wider audience to allow you to expand that network of core interest groups.

There are often dangers involved with any online entreprise. I mainly try and deal with it by being careful about the kinds of applications and services I sign up for and the level of personal information I disclose about myself on social networking sites.

Balancing diversity with meaningful interactions

Hi Idil, yours are really clear thoughts, and I fully agree with keeping a balance and filtering information so that your network grows and at the same time ties get stronger.

Out of curiosity, what do people mean, yourself included, when you refer to wide social networks, is it hundreds? Is it thousands?

In my mind, this also depends on the network. My own network, both online (facebook, and twitter, maybe linkedin but the latter are really initiating to grow) and offline consists of about 50 people with whom I constantly stay in touch… and follow their feeds.

For me staying within a hundred on FB was what I intended because for a long time (I signed up mid 2009, after true resistance) I thought of it as a network for friends, particularly those that are abroad. And friends are not many. But then it became more and more difficult to stay within that range, and at one point I had the no. of friends = the no. of friend requests, which was a bit mean I know,…

It’s also weird because the more friends you have on these online networks, the more exposed you can be, irrespective of official disclosure policies. So whenever you post something it automatically becomes attached to your online identity. I’m very careful when posting, even when my network is small and I personally know people’s faces and we’ve talked in person priorly.

Hey Noemi,

Thanks for the

Hey Noemi,

Thanks for the response. I certainly don’t mean thousands, hundrerds I guess was what I had in mind. Yes, FB  for me is a network for friends, close and not so close. I’ve moved around a lot in my life and I guess it is very useful to have all my friends’ contacts in one place. Even if  I am only really close to a handful of them, I feel like I can refresh my ties with anyone at any given point if I have had some contact with them however irregular, even if it’s only wishing them a happy birthday once a year. Although I must admit I don’t do that for every single one of my contacts, only those I feel I would like to get to know more circumstances permitting.

I agree with you about privacy not being limited to what you disclose about yourself  but also your  online foot print so to say, including messages you have exchanged with people. In that respect we can never be too private I guess. That’s why I guess I am careful about what I post.


hi idil,

thank you for your mission! it’s going to get really confusing these network things! i try to avoid the balancing issues by multiple networking identities. i think i’ve always done that in the physical world anyway - hanging with one group or another while often avoiding they come into contact (fear they were too different). I’m not sure if it is the right approach because it shows a distrust in either groups’ ability to accommodate each other. Cyber networking avoids that problem because there isn’t really any need to accommodate anyone or anything is there? Differences are maybe detached from the actual virtual interaction? sorry, i’m just splurging on the thoughts you’ve brought to my mind!

i’d love to hear more…

Mixing in right doses

I am glad you point to the overlap between your "real world” and virtual networking tendencies. Although different mediums, I would agree that as individuals we export our networking styles from the real world onto our virtual networks. I therefore think that our virtual networking tendencies are not a disjuncture from how we would socialise in the physical world but an extension of it. As is to be expected of course, just as everything else virtual social networking brings with it new opportunities and constraints.

I also identify with your instincts of wanting to segregate your different social networks. I have done so in my real and virtual life and I think so have most people I’ve known to a lesser or greater extent. I feel that it is only natural, especially for young people still trying to carve out a niche. Often by doing so however, as you rightly mention, one risks underestimating the capacity of people to accommodate and accept each other. Not only this, often we learn from people we least expect to. I think I have come to appreciate this over the years. So while five years ago I would have strictly bifurcated my different social networks, I have increasingly come to mix them in the right doses over the years. I say ‘in right doses’ because I feel that as individuals  from specific backgrounds embedded in different social  networks we often set boundaries and judge the extent to which mixing your social network is socially acceptable. For instance, as someone from a Somali background I know not to take male friends to the area of London where my family lives. Similarly, I have never introduced people I knew from doing part-time jobs when I was at school to my university friends. I guess we do this because we feel that since people come from different cultural, religious or class backgrounds, they might not understand each other or have a common ground on which to start a conversation. Recently however, I feel that I have stopped worrying too much about what people in my different social networks would think about each other and by extension about me if they were exposed to each other. I now share cheesy Bollywood songs with my Indian friends, make Somali jokes with friends and family, share intellectual articles with colleagues from university all on the same social forum. The wonderful thing about this I feel is that it allows people in your different social networks (including close friends and family) to get to know and understand you better. This in turn allows you to act as a via medium between cultures and worldviews. However, I am still conscious of the boundaries.  I guess it is the little steps that will make the big difference in the end.

The fine art of fine tuning

This is really interesting. So you are trying to fine tune the crossover between worlds you inhabit, and perceive as different spaces. I (as an early adopter of social networks) don’t do that; but that might be because I decided early on to build an online persona, and self-censor on several things that do not pertain to my intellectual (or music - I used to be a musician) interests. Believe it or not, I had never thought about this - despite having married a woman of very mixed background. I guess she does not do as you! Is it a widespread behavior?

contribution weighted


I consider actual social networking like evolution of the good "old" 1.0 boards, and as such I firmly believe that you must use them in a selective and weighted way. Much better more specific networks than an only hosed facebook, that does not help to focus. A place for everything and everything in its place.

Many of us

Indinur, many of us old-timers on the Internet feel this way. I admit being nostalgic for a very early online life I did not even participate in, that of Howard Rheingold’s The Virtual Community . In 2009 I even wrote a post about it: it came with this picture:

It’s a nice picture you have here, do you still have a post?

It seems like those who keep entering by the Social Networks Door can make themselves feel more like home if mingling more with Old-Timers in The Virtual Community.

I think there might be a need for an Open Forum of Geekery Comprehensibilisation in every community. Preferably in real time and space, as well as virtual.