Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
I received an email about so-and-so wanting to connect with me on Flickr. I was a little surprised because I don’t promote my Flickr account–I use it for testing, only. I was flattered that they had taken the time to look for me on Flickr.
There was a second one a few hours later, and again I was surprised. I thought perhaps it was me appearing in the first person’s contact list that prompted the invite. I wasn’t as flattered, but still felt somewhat warmed by the act.
With the third invitation, I knew that the invites were less a matter of the person being interested in me, or my photos, and more interested in participating in some new social software gizmo.
Then I read Marshall Kirkpatrick’s writing on the new “Find a Friend” feature from Yahoo, where the company will scan your gmail contacts for a match on Flickr and allow you to send an invite with no more effort than check a box or push a button. There went any warmth; any momentary feeling of being remembered.
I liked it when I tried it, I connected with some interesting people on Flickr that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I wouldn’t appreciate it, though, if certain people from my past who have otherwise forgotten about me were now prompted to check out my photos on Flickr. If blog comment spammers I’ve had nasty email exchanges with were suddenly prompted to friend me on Flickr, I wouldn’t like that very much either.
It was just tools talking to each other, and I was nothing more than a discrete bit of data and a way for people to fluff up their contact list with a minimum of effort. I could have been Joe, or Sally, and it wouldn’t have mattered. Rather than feeling more connected, I feel less.