LinkedIn to Friendster: Six Degrees of Social Networking

Internet | Access/Network
My friend Stephanie has hooked me up to three social networks now– the original, which shut down in 2000, the still-popular Friendster, and now LinkedIn. This trend is partially due to the fact that Stephanie is one of my oldest and most trusted friends, and also, being a journalist and events publicist, it’s her job to be hip on this. And if you want to meet Stephanie, or learn more about me, just search for me on either one of them.

Social networking sites– if you aren’t on one of them– is based on Stanley Milgram’s 1967 research which asserted that people in the world are separated by no more than six degrees. Milgram’s process, in which he asked 160 people in Omaha try to reach a stockbroker living in Sharon, Mass., is now systematized over the web. John Gaure’s 1990 play and 1993 movie “Six Degrees of Separation”, the Kevin Bacon game, and a 1999 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell all helped propel the concept along in the last decade, which nicely coincided with the rise of the Internet, as well as the apparent social isolation which Robert Putnam has documented in Bowling Alone.

Here’s a brief article Globe article about the business prospects Six Degrees Co.: Social networking sites are attracting users and investors. But will anybody make money? The good news is that there is a wide-open playing field right now, giving each service the incentive to keep innovating.

It took me 24 hours to build up a number of contacts on LinkedIn as I have on Friendster (12). While Friendster seems like a gimmick for hooking up your friends, LinkedIn’s aim is to bring professionals together for business opportunities and employment. I remarked to Alex that it may well demolish traditional resumes as Evite has eviscerated invitations. Alex and I had a mini-debate over whom it was most appropriate to link to. Nonetheless, I followed LinkedIn’s advice:

“Invite the people you would consider introducing to your other connections. So long as you are willing to help each other make professional contacts, you will make good connections.”

Alex has a few years on me, and has worked in a few more jobs than I, and has worked with a lot more people. I still have to make to do with padding my list. Hence, my Mom and old college roommates are in there along with co-workers. I’m even going to invite a woman I met in a bar last weekend. Well, the bar was the location for the Young Professionals’ for Kerry party, and the woman, happens to be an executive coach. So she already recommended someone for work at Pega.

I still haven’t been invited to Google’s Orkut, which had a well publicized launch at the end of January. I guess I’m just waiting for Stephanie to get her invite.