It’s hard to read a post like this how-to for deploying Google Plus badges without wincing, once you’ve read Maciej Ceglowski’s brilliant demolition of “social networking” theory, “The Social Graph is Neither.” Just saying. From Ceglowski’s piece:
There’s no way to take a time-out from our social life and describe it to a computer without social consequences. At the very least, the fact that I have an exquisitely maintained and categorized contact list telegraphs the fact that I’m the kind of schlub who would spend hours gardening a contact list, instead of going out and being an awesome guy. The social graph wants to turn us back into third graders, laboriously spelling out just who is our fifth-best-friend. But there’s a reason we stopped doing that kind of thing in third grade!I suspect that years from now we’ll look back in wonder on that period when people talked about “social” as if it were something that can be sprayed onto a site like an aerosol, or bolted onto its side as an afterthought. And when people truly believed that if they boned up on all the latest-and-greatest ways to perform the incantations of liking, +1-ing, branding and circling, they’d be blessed and enriched by multi-zillion-dollar corporations. The way we look back four hundred years and say “Tulips? What was that about?”
You might almost think that the whole scheme had been cooked up by a bunch of hyperintelligent but hopelessly socially naive people, and you would not be wrong. Asking computer nerds to design social software is a little bit like hiring a Mormon bartender. Our industry abounds in people for whom social interaction has always been more of a puzzle to be reverse-engineered than a good time to be had, and the result is these vaguely Martian protocols. […]
We have a name for the kind of person who collects a detailed, permanent dossier on everyone they interact with, with the intent of using it to manipulate others for personal advantage—we call that person a sociopath. And both Google and Facebook have gone deep into stalker territory with their attempts to track our every action. Even if you have faith in their good intentions, you feel misgivings about stepping into the elaborate shrine they’ve built to document your entire online life.
Open data advocates tell us the answer is to reclaim this obsessive dossier for ourselves, so we can decide where to store it. But this misses the point of how stifling it is to have such a permanent record in the first place. Who does that kind of thing and calls it social?
This is also pertinent.