Great metaphor by Liz Lawley (see below) people should remember if they are involved in the user experience, design and community-building aspects of social networks:
Macworld | Researchers help define next-generation social networking
“One thing that’s very broken in the social tools we have right now is context and boundaries and a sense of who I want to share what with,” said Liz Lawley, director of the laboratory for social computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Many social-networking sites essentially force users to become part of a huge community, or they force users to choose whether someone else is a friend or not, with no other subtleties defining that relationship, she noted.
“People want to create villages and they’re being forced into cities. That’s creating a huge tension in social interactions,” she said. Lawley and other academic researchers spoke at the Microsoft Research annual Faculty Summit, an event that brings together academics, government workers and Microsoft researchers to discuss new fields of computer-science research.