Social reefs

I have two friends, Paul and Richard. They only know each other through me. What happens to that social connection when I die?

Normally all the social connections created through me after I die may slowly decay. As Richard and Paul die, only the physical artifacts (the photos, letters, etc.) remain. 100 years from now, their relationship to me and each other may be more dead and forgotten than I am.

The creation of a social reef.

Richard and Paul are both “friends” of mine on Facebook. When I die, my digital social skeleton (my Facebook profile) will still connect them, as long as my profile is in place.

Digital social skeletons would create a social reef, a skeletal framework like the great coral reefs. Social reefs would be made of millions of social connections devoid of the life that created them. The questions is whether or not the new online skeletons will decay over time, or whether they will become a foundation for a larger social reef to form on top of them.

All I can imagine are digital archeologists a hundred years from now, with super user access, spelunking into the caves of deceased social networks. Running data mining scripts that extract data and illuminate the past.

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3 Responses to Social reefs

  1. Paul August 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm #

    It’s hard to imagine the digital connection alone being enough to form something which is built upon in the future. The digital connection can lead to real physical or virtual relationships (aka my dozens of online friends who I laugh, play, and weep with, but have never met in the flesh).

    I can see blogs, digital photos, digital documents, and maybe digitized physical (paper) documents making up the archives and stuff of digital archeologists. But FB links? I dunno.

  2. Evan Carroll August 17, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    Paul, I’m not quite sure about building the future upon a past network of digital connections, but I do think digital connections will be of value to digital archaeologists. Today we use letters exchanged in the past to understand friendship and connections. Those connections help us piece the past back together. I believe that digital connections will serve this same purpose, perhaps even more so.

  3. John Romano August 20, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    The thought came about from a question of Evan’s. Do artifacts of interaction have more value in context.

    We can pluck a conversation out of Facebook ot Twitter and store it for posterity in a text archive associated with a person, but does conversation have more value in context of where it originally came from.

    Maybe the conversation is best left in it’s original format (say Facebook) where links and references can be followed.

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