Unpopular As Bad As Too Popular

Josh Catone of ReadWriteWeb published an intriguing article the other day that dove into the question, How Many Friends Are Too Many? In his article, Josh takes the example of Jason Calacanis who follows 26,672 people (now at 29,978) and suggests that there is no way in hell that Jason can actually participate in conversations in any meaningful way with those who follow him. I agree.

I’m on Twitter myself, and I am following 338 people while 460 people are following me. Not all of those who follow me are participating with me in conversations on a usual basis. So far, I’ve been able to engage in great conversations with those who follow me, but when the conversation involved more than one individual, one of the biggest pains of Twitter shows itself. Twitter’s structure does not bode well for multi-threaded conversations and it’s too easy to get lost in the noise. However, I’ve been able to show that I am indeed listening to those who shout out at me, something Jason can’t vouch for.

But Jason has mentioned before, he uses Twitter more as a marketing, broadcasting medium than a conversational tool. Looking at his Twitter profile, it seems as though he at times participates in the conversation. But with the way Jason is set up, once he replies to something, the conversation is blown off the map. Not entirely his fault.

But back to the matter at hand. According to research conducted by Robin Dunbar, 100-150 people are the approximate amount which would comprise a natural group size in which everyone can really know everyone else. I can vouch for that as I’ve kept the list of people I follow down to a minimum and I pretty much know every one of them by avatar alone.

How have you been able to manage relationships with a large number of people? Do you exchange emails or messages on Facebook or any other social platform where you have close to a 1,000 so called friends? Do any of the conversations you have with folks online contain any value to you, or is it a hopeless feeling of being lost in the noise?