Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Future of Friends

When Favorites push out in a few weeks a couple interesting things will happen to Friends - and i wanted to explore them with you. First is this Friends & Faves page. It's not just that I added the Faves part - it has an inward facing (what you see) and outward facing (what other people see) state. Right now, there is only an inward facing part of Friends -- that is -- only you can see your friends. But shortly, there will be an outward facing version, and it will have a more anonymized version of the Friends page. It won't have sliders, and you won't be able to see rental history or queue info or notes... but you will be able to see that I have 5 friends. You'll be able to see them the same way you see reviewers: similarity %, nickname, avatar, 5-star ratings. And their friends. And while you cannot send these people notes or bug em, you can save them as your favorites, if you wanted. Just like a reviewer. This way, you can surf around from reviewer, to reviewer, to their Friends, to their Faves, and so on, checking out what people are enjoying, and so on.

(Draft of outward Friends and Faves page; no % on people means they haven't rated enough. Ignore the typo in the header...)

Now if you add someone to your Favorites list, they see you too, but in a different pile -- of FANS. You can always see your fans, check 'em out if you want (or ignore them; you could have hundreds if you're a great reviewer or make cool Top 10 Lists). On the inward facing version, these categories are separate -- but to the outside world, Friends, Faves and Fans are what you see. The similarity % are the similarity of these people to YOU, not to the person to whom they are connected. (I believe this is harder to write than to demonstrate, but i hope you can sort of visualize this).

The outward facing Friends & Faves page makes no distinction between Friends, Favorites (and fans). Just one big pile of people through which you can explore.

This is a very different proposition than the old Friends - where you have these very finite 1:1 connections. Favorites changes this, and seeing your Friends' friends changes this. Because of the anonymous profiles no one is really exposed, so it's a safe place to play and explore and look for movies.

And finally, these are just steps along a path of functionality. But this mid-September update will do some radical new things to the entire system. I count on you to tell me what you think - pro and con: let's hear it.