I’ve noticed this new “Groups” thing in the latest version of Windows Live Messenger, and it seems that the kind folks at Microsoft have really started to “get it” about what “Social” is.
If you enable the “What’s new” display at the bottom of the Live Messenger window, you will see people in your “group” (that you have started) who have joined other people’s networks. If you click on the links, you can view information about that user and their network, and you can invite them to join (or, ask to join). It’s not that intuitive at first, but if you play around with it using people that you know, you’ll start seeing new Contacts in your contacts list – most likely people you didn’t know were using Messenger, and / or you probably never thought to invite.
I’ve already made a few new friends with this – people I always wanted to be able to have on Messenger, but I either never thought of it, or I didn’t know how to invite them.
When “Groups” first was started, I started a “.Net devs” group just for fun, and invited a few of my Messenger contacts. Several people joined. The concept of getting your Twitter friends to join a Messenger group or network is powerful. Think about it.
The key thing – like any other new “toy” – is to use it to join networks of people you are really interested in (in my case other MVP’s and .NET developers). This will keep the signal-to-noise ratio at an acceptable level. I get followed on Twitter by all kinds of strange folks – who are obviously following a search on some keyword in a Tweet of mine. I check them out, have a look at who’s following them, and only then do I decide.
“Social” means different things to different people. To me, it means developing meaningful relationships with like-minded people where I can help them, and they can help me. To others, it’s just collecting names. You have to decide what “social” really means to you.
Kudos to Microsoft for thinking social and “getting it”. I think it’s a step in the right direction vis-a-vis “unification of social”.