Is "social" really a technology?11-Nov-2010

Update: I just came back from Tech Tuesday and Microsoft’s NERD (New England Resource and Development) sponsored by the MassTLC. I bought an HD7 Windows 7 phone just before the meeting to do a reality check and because I like the development environment. At NERD Anthony Kinney, an evangelist for the phone told me that, in fact, the entries are not comingled by default. I’m going to be learning more about the phone and am glad that the problem is not as dire as I assumed.

But, and there is always the “but”, there is the larger question of “identities” and related issues. For example how do I buy a Kindle for the family rather than myself? How do we bring back the idea of a phone number that is ambiguous so that I can dial a family without specifying who I am calling or I can call the house rather than a person? Still a lot of work to be done.

I'm curious about the WP7 phone so was reading a review and came across this paragraph:

With Exchange or Gmail, this strategy is probably fine in most cases -- contact sync is one of the main reasons you use Exchange ActiveSync. But seriously, Facebook is another matter altogether. If you're a normal human being with maybe a couple hundred or fewer actual contacts, you're used to just flicking through your contact list to get to whomever you need. Having all of your Facebook contacts mixed in with the rest outof your friends and family could be a real mess, right? Microsoft has thoughtfully provided an option to remove Facebook contacts who aren't represented in one of your other contact lists (like Gmail or Hotmail), which seems like the route Android took to handle Facebook contacts... but this is a bit of a ruse. Though the names are removed from your big list, when you do a search in the phone, everyone who's in your Facebook list (real friend or not) turns up.

As noted this is not just about WP7 but the entire idea a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend is a friend. So far I've avoided contaminating my contact with my Facebook and Twitter accounts Š though Picasa has leaked some stuff through by just tossing the names I add into my contact list if I forget to uncheck the right box without leaving me clue why I might've added the third person in the fifth row in the group photo other than tagging the name because it's there.

Is there a techno-Asperger's syndrome that makes technologists completely clueless about human interactions and unable to understand subtlety and ambiguity and everything else that makes relationships work? I've had enough trouble sorting my main contacts from the many business cards I correct and trying to manage this stuff despite Outlook (or other consumer contact managers). But is the world really mad (in the sense of insane) enough to just treat all tokens as my best buds forever?

After all these years I still live in fear of my PlanetAll birthday information rising up from the past sludge due to the incredibly incompetent approach to synchronization that plagues the industry giving me duplicates of my contacts in the broom scene from Fantasia.

Next chapter: World peace through Esperanto and other mechanical solutions to human problems. But don't worry - soon will live in Cisco's Nirvana of cities smarter than the average bear and you too.