Social Venn

Luke's Social Venn

Many people are talking about privacy issues on Facebook, and I agree with most of their points. I’m not unhappy with Facebook or any privacy issues, because I’ve always considered everything I do or say or put online to be 100% public immediately. I’ve always used my own name when signing up to any internet service, so whatever I do can alway be tied back to me.

But then again, I don’t have a real job, so have no work colleges or employers to find out about my strange hobbies. Nor do I have children, so I don’t have any worries in that direction.

Anyway, there’s been a lot talk about controlling the privacy of each update, photo or comment someone posts on Facebook. Controlling who can or may or will see that post is impossible, and Facebook switched the default from “Only friends can see this” to “Everyone can see this.” No wonder it is confusing.

There have been various discussions about alternatives to Facebook, including the crowd-funded Diaspora. On TWiT, a pundit talked about controlling who sees what in a hypothetical social website by using ever widening circles of trust. On one extreme there is “everyone” and at the other extreme is “Just my closest friends.” In between would be “other friends”, “work people,” and maybe “stranger I met in a bar, made my friend, but can’t work out how to unfired them.”

While this is a simple idea, I think it is slightly too simple to be useful. What I’d like to see is “Social Venn.”

The idea is that each time you click a “Submit” or “Post” button, a window opens with a colorful Venn Diagram. Who can see the post depends on where you click the diagram.

The above image is what my Social Venn would look like based on the groups I put my contacts into on Facebook. To be clear, those not in the Friends segment aren’t people who I don’t consider friends, but if I wanted to send out a message about something personal, I’m not sure if the listeners to my podcast are the right target.

So, you see this diagram, and click the parts of the graph who you want to see what post. Not just one part, but two or three or four parts.

Alternatively, you can “Select All” and then (maybe) right click to pick which sections of your Social Venn will not, nor ever, see what you post. A post might go to all of your closest friends, but even if one of your work colleges is your closest friend, if you say “Not for work people” they’ll never see that post, even if it goes to all your other friends and they are discussing it among themselves like mad.

That’s my idea.

Making and displaying the Social Venn would be a fun and simple coding project, though not one I’m particularly interested in doing myself. The idea is actually one Facebook could implement, as it uses tagging and not folders to organize friends. If Facebook or Diaspora want to pay me to consult on their platforms, I’d be happy to take your money.

Or maybe this could be tied into a third party program or service, and aggregate your posts out to Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, etc. I’d love to have this kind of control over my social internetting. If you are working on something like this, I’d be happy to take your money too.


Leave a Reply