Sunday, November 18, 2007

How many online friends could you have?

Wall Street Journal has an interesting article this Friday on the online social network. The column The Numbers Guy citied the research work from an Oxford professor, Robin Dunbar, saying there is a natural limit to a friendship circle, 150 as a ceiling on our personal contacts. But the research is based on the real-life experience. So will online social networking sites help users to burst the numbers? The column said there is possibility since humans have developed this technology to surpass their physical limits on speed, strength and the ability to process information.

I have a little doubt on this. If the research is true, it means we could only maintain 150 friends even if we only live in a small town, while friends could meet and talk everyday. Now even with the new technology, the friend circle will only be like the one in the small town. Those friends are the ones your mind could keep in touch in a frequent basis.

Speaking of this, it depends on how we could define on the friend circle. Will someone who you only met once be called friends? or the ones we could speak everything? If it is the first choice, then our friend circle is definitely enlarged by the Internet. Count my facebook, I got 40 contacts; count my MSN, I got over 200 contacts. But I don't consider all of them friends. So maybe I am still within the 150 circle.

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