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Automatic Friends, or, Web 3.0

“But sweeter still, more beautiful and beguiling,/ To be a friend knowingly in the arms of a friend.” – F.G. Klopstock

Can friendship be automatic? That is the question circulating around some recent posts about the dismal manual quality of Web 2.0 (aka social networking), and also here. You choose who you want to follow, in some cases who can follow you, clicking, sorting, and deleting. It is based on the idea of mutual interest that is at the core of a notion of friendship, which has itself been at the core of reading for centuries.

But when you have 500 friends, or follow on average 400 twitter streams per day, is friendship still the best category to think about reading and the exchange of information? The push to make the selectivity of information more automated — algorithms of aggregation, much like amazon does now with book titles — is likely to show up soon in the world of social networking. It raises the interesting question: what kind of sociability is quantified sociability? “Calculation” of course was precisely the value that was not supposed to belong to “friendship.” But when we spend much of our time mindlessly sorting through nonsense — captured so beautifully in this piece about the Zombie as the new metaphor for the digital age — then automation might paradoxically rehumanize our relationships because it frees us from so much automated work by hand.

But this post says it best on what’s to come and why:

What the hell is everybody doing all day in Web 2.0? This is about social networks, not round corners. My ass has round corners, too. Seriously.

It is time for Web 3.0. A personal web, not a social web. I really do not care which feed carried the news to me. I just want them¬†once. I also want a multidimensional weight attached to them, as in ‘you got this from 5 friends, 3 news tickers, 8 friend blogs rss feeds, it is trending on rivva and on Twitter Germany, has 13 favs and 876 Facebook likes. It might be important for you.’.

And I want it to be automated. As in ’23 of your friends have now 12 times pushed news from x into your timeline. They also have a direct RSS. Do you want me to subscribe? If so, I suggest to put it into the category Newstickers/IT.’

Can you build that, please, instead of wasting your venture capital on espresso makers or the next groupon clone? Thanks.