The conventional wisdom is that big is better for social applications — more people in an online social network makes the network more valuable to all participants because they can more easily talk to each other.  Being big and popular is a good thing, right?

Well, Facebook now has 750 million users.That’s 750 million monthly active users – not just existing accounts that may or may not be used regularly. Billions, even trillions of  opportunities to connect with someone. Amazing.

But here’s the rub: there might just be such a thing as being too popular.

Remember MySpace and Friendster? When was the last time you shared anything on either?  Friendster succumbed to crashing servers and users couldn’t access the site as it grew too popular — that’s an example of technology placing friction on the popularity of a social network.  MySpace buried itself in advertising and spammy profiles as it grew past the hundred-million user mark — that’s an example of business policies placing friction on popularity.

So what about Facebook?  Facebook seems to have avoided technology and business pitfalls so far and has grown way past the size of Friendster or MySpace.  But recent stories suggesting that Facebook’s active userbase might be declining make me wonder whether there’s a third kind of limitation on the popularity of social apps. What if something else is at work here — something akin to the law of gravity, a force of nature beyond Facebook’s control (or anyone else’s, for that matter).

What if, at a certain size, a person’s social network becomes too large to be easily navigated and shared with as intended?  Maybe as a social app gets more and more popular, there’s social friction that starts to get in the gears. We hear stories of teenagers not wanting to be “friends” with their parents and here at Katango, we’ve received thousands of opinions from users who say they are very concerned about sharing things with too many people.

All this makes me think that Facebook may be rubbing up against this social friction simply by virtue of having done such an amazing job of growing its user base.

Now, the average user like me doesn’t really think about the overall size of Facebook that much.  We just think about the people that we’re connected to and what we want to share with those people.  So a user experiences social friction simply as a hesitation to share or a feeling that they have to do lots of thinking around whether they should share, save or tweet various photos or personal information with their entire network –  because no one wants to commit the ultimate social media sin: the dreaded overshare.

(We’ll talk more about what, precisely, constitutes a social media overshare next week.)

All these mental gyrations and decision-making about whether or not something should be shared takes the fun out of the whole experience. For some people, it’s worse — being connected to that many people at one time can produce a worry that’s almost like stage fright.  And when social networks become a source of worry, users become much, much less likely to use them.

Viewed from this standpoint, Facebook’s scale and stories of a decline in members aren’t actually a signal of Facebook doing anything wrong. Far from it, Facebook may just be bumping up against the limits of social friction because they’re doing such an incredibly good job!  Oh the irony.  Still, these signals of friction are real things to pay attention too — they’re red flags that users are experiencing difficulty and worry as they manage their social networks because they have grown so large, complicating their sharing decisions.

At Katango, we like to think we might have the social media version of WD-40 — a magical solution that takes the friction out of social apps — an algorithm that allows users to continue growing their networks, yet share selectively.  Friction-free.  Worry-free.

Join our invite list, and we’ll make sure you’re one of the first we empower with what we call “personal crowd control,” when our first app launches next week!


Yoav here – co-founder and Chairman of Katango.  I wrote earlier about the evolution of the address book, from the Before Network Era, when my Dad had a leather-bound journal with the names and addresses of about 300 contacts, to now, when I have about 5,000 contacts across social networks from Facebook to LinkedIn (and all online points in between).

And it’s a predictable trajectory. My youngest son, the precocious driver in the pic above, could easily have 50,000 Facebook friends 40 years from now.  His classmates are the first generation whose parents began building their social networks – setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts and curating their online identities for them, literally in utero.

Next question: who will he want to share this picture ^^ with in 2051? All 50,000 people he’s ever met or encountered online?  Doubtful. Fortunately, he won’t have that problem. His Dad’s been working on an app for that.

This post was written by Tara-Nicholle Nelson, VP of Digital and Content at SutherlandGold Group. You can follow her on Twitter @taranicholle

If you have a Facebook account or a Twitter handle, chances are good you’ve regretted at least one of your social media posts.  Whether you uploaded Vegas pics that were cool for your sorority sisters to see, but not your boss, or you described a bodily function in entirely too much detail for almost any other human being to handle, most of us have reflected on at least one or two posts with a cringe.

But you know what they say, it could always be worse – you could be one of these folks!  To make you feel a little bit better about your own Facebook faux pas or TTMI (Tweeting Too Much Information) experiences, we’ve curated a list of some of the best (or is that worst?) social media overshares from around the web.  Though they vary widely from the notorious Weiner-gate to the anonymous poop-proud papa, these posts illustrate the essential truth that comedy and tragedy being two sides of the same coin – especially in the blogosphere.

1.  Papa Don’t Preach Post (about Poop)


And you thought the naked baby pics your Mom showed your first girlfriend were bad.

Make the jump for 5 more egregious social media overshares.

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This post was written by Shailo Rao at Katango. You can follow him on Twitter @shailorao

Over the years I’ve taken and enjoyed many Human Computer Interaction (HCI) design courses for the web. I’ve also taught HCI design several times for the web. The formal training I’ve received and given has served as the foundation for my interaction design skills for the web.

Hopefully you noticed how I ended all three of those previous sentences with a key phrase- “for the web.”

Smart phones burst onto the scene with a corresponding explosion of apps just a few short years ago. I knew I had a ton of new stuff to learn and practice to augment my HCI training for the web. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of completing my dissertation and didn’t have the luxury to take more HCI design courses for smart phone insights.

iPhone User Experience Design

There was no other way around it after I finished my dissertation. I needed to teach myself iPhone interaction design. Here’s five resources I’ve used to learn about and design iPhone user experiences after the jump…

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5 links from across the world wide web that have sparked our social side here at Katango


3 Pressing Questions Facing the Future of Social Media [Mashable]: This piece outlines some of the fundamental problems we’re all facing in the social network era. Our online social world is becoming a bigger distraction, harder to filter for the essential, and impossible to fully consume.

Links 2, 3, 4, and 5 after the jump!

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This post was written by Professor Daniel A. McFarland from Stanford University. Dr. McFarland is an Associate Professor of Education, Sociology, and Business (by courtesy) who has taught social networks courses at Stanford for over 10 years. His current areas of research concern social network analysis, sociology of knowledge / science, microsociology, organizations, and the sociology of education.

In many regards, social networks are always just beyond our control and constantly impinging upon us. We worry our friends don’t like us; colleagues ask us for information about jobs; family members ask us for favors; and we find the lives of our neighbors enter our own in unsolicited ways. As such, social networks are aspects of our lived reality that we want more control over and the capacity to explore and utilize. Much like our quest to control nature, we have a compelling need to control our social lives (or at least make sense of it!).

The agglomerating compendium of “friends” in Facebook, “colleagues” in LinkedIn, and the group-defined networks of Ning, all seem to miss the fact that real social networks are multidimensional and multi-purpose. They regard our network as uni-dimensional and as having relatively singular purposes others (often engineers!) define for us. They miss the fact that individuals want to better understand and use their networks for their own ends.

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This post was written by Shailo Rao at Katango. You can follow him on Twitter @shailorao.

Whenever I get a chunk of free time I love flipping through Wikipedia. I’ve lost hours reading entries and clicking their embedded links. Wikipedia’s Main Page notes that it has over 3.5 million articles– they’re not joking. Today I wanted to explore what Wikipeda has on some of the biggest social web buzzwords of today.

Social Media

Find out what Wikipedia has on social media, social network, social graph, microblogging, and Dunbar’s number, plus some great videos, after the jump.

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