Mike Arrington wrote today about a new thingamajig that makes one of the zillion social networks work better with your email inbox. He says your inbox is "not only the 'original' Internet social network, it's going to be the backbone of social networking going forward."
There are indeed a bunch of social networks, as Brad Feld wrote about a couple of days ago. He said his "head hurts" trying to think about how to coordinate one person between all those networks.
There are non-digital world examples of this kind of problem that people have faced forever. Our family faces it every year at Christmas Card time. We have a spreadsheet from when we got married that we try to update, coordinating that with email contact directories, letters sent during the year, etc. It's interesting that some people exist only in the Christmas Card list, others there and digitally in an in-box, but not on a social network.
The reason I bring all of this up is this: Yes, the whole space is complicated and yes, it's hard to keep it all straight. But I think this is all good news, really good news.
In the old days, people could use their company directory and maybe a church or school directory, plus an address book that rarely changed, to keep track of everyone in their lives. Now it's harder to keep track of everyone, but we are in contact with that many more people. Life is more complicated and interconnected, but how much richer and more well informed we are because of our direct exposure -- even if it is digitally -- to so many more people!
While it may seem like a chore keeping track of all those people across all those directories, it's a blessing indeed that you have all of those people around you in the first place.
So, no more whining!