Phil Gyford


Friday 3 October 2003

PreviousIndexNext Bloglines' blogrolls and the real world creating friends

Bloglines, which I still enjoy, has introduced a feature that lets you include your list of subscribed-to feeds on your own site. So here’s mine. Yes, “blogroll” is a hideous term, but it probably makes sense to the few people that might have the slightest interest in seeing what someone else reads. And I can’t think of anything else short and meaningful.

Sharing one’s list of subscribed feeds is more personal than displaying a crafted list of “sites I like”. It reflects how I’ve ordered things for myself, and nothing embarrassing is hidden (although it is possible to hide directories of subscriptions). I feel rather exposed.

Particularly when it comes to who I’ve placed in the “Friends” category, rather than relegated to “General”. It’s like writing a list of “My Top Ten Friends”, which we all did as kids. Er, right? I started to think about how I’d made those decisions and I realised that, subconciously, real-world proximity greatly increases the strength of otherwise identical social ties.

I once worked with Paul, and the fact he’s a fraction of 2lmc makes me feel like they’re kind of, vaguely, “friends”. Whereas, while I’ve met Jason a few times, and Cory (a fraction of Boing Boing), it feels presumptious to list them as friends.

Both sets of people are equal parts of my online world, locked tightly into the web of a comically dense social network. Perhaps simply sharing a nationality (and hence culture) with someone, coupled with the likelihood of bumping into them while out and about, makes them feel somehow socially closer. And now I’ve written that it seems almost insultingly obvious. Maybe I should get out more…

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