David Hornik writes in Conserving Social Capital:
As social networking software grows more prevalent and an increasing number of people attempt to draw upon our social capital to make introductions, entertain business propositions, pass along resumes, etc., I believe we will all grow more guarded with our time and our relationships. If social capital is indeed capital, we will all soon be more careful about where we spend it and on whom.
I agree with David — and see another aspect as well. I’ve recently been playing with LinkedIn, one of the social networking sites that’s primarily focused on business relationships of the type that David’s discussing. (The “find a mate” sites are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish!)
I’m finding there’s just not much of a “there there” for me. Nothing that draws me back to regular usage. Somehow expanding LinkedIn’s view of my network just doesn’t get me excited — like they think it should! There’s certainly nothing there I’d be willing to actually pay LinkedIn for!
This obviously isn’t a stable situation. Something will likely emerge to make this a more useful service — a place to spend and share the social capital David talks about — or it’ll eventually just fade away.
Another current irritant of mine is Plaxo. I’m really tired of receiving those “update my address book” emails from colleagues and have taken to just deleting them. Part of this is my Mac bias showing through — but part of it is my view that using Plaxo is a negative expenditure of my correspondent’s social capital. Ironically, that’s probably just how a few of my friends feel about my “join LinkedIn” emails from me over the last couple of weeks!