Friends: What are they now?

The growing meaningless of the word friend--and the need for a new taxonomy for relationships in the networked world.

Bob Dylan: “I gotta friend who spends his life, stabbing my picture with a bowie-knife, dreams of stranglin’ me with a scarf, when my name comes up he pretends to barf… I got a million friends!”

I write this as I celebrate my new friendship with Arianna Huffington on Facebook. If I had just waited an hour or two, I might have been # 5,000. This isn’t a problem, really, just a new use for the word “friend.”

Do we need to come up with a new taxonomy for the networked world, one in which we’ll have more precise and relevant words for today’s catch-alls like “friend” and “colleague.” (I know of “frenemy.” Are there others?) I’m thinking that a new vocabulary should help us sort out these relationships, and guide companies toward building services that support them… Or perhaps I have it backwards?

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