Chapter 14. One of Us, One of Us

“I used to think of all the billions of people in the world, and of all those people, how was I going to meet the right ones? The right ones to be friends, the right one to be my husband. Now I just believe you meet the people you’re supposed to meet.”

Diane Frolov, Northern Exposure, “The Quest,” 1995

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.”

C.S. Lewis


Having a group of people to hang out with, communicate with, and participate with is key to the successful social experience. One of the worst problems is to show up somewhere and find you’re alone. The ability to find friends and make them a part of your circle for participation is one of the key interactions to design when building a social site. The first impulse is to simply import all contacts from the variety of address books a user may have. This process, like casting a large net into the ocean and hoping for the best, doesn’t help filter out meaningful relationships. Not all contacts are equal. I may have my aunt and my accountant in my address book, but I don’t necessarily want them as friends on Facebook.

The strength of ties in relationships and the type of site and network being encouraged all need to be considered when offering ways for users to build relationships. Additionally, the context surrounding these relationships needs to be considered when developing the circles of friendship.

Is the friend-of-a-friend ...

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