Are You A Servant of The Network?

Personal Possessions?

After reading a few of the recent comments on several discussion threads I have noticed that some people seem to view their facebook network almost like a personal possession that they need to protect. I have been wondering about this concept and would like to open it up for deeper discussion.

Stewards Rights

First of all I would like to point out that ultimately facebook owns the whole network and as Jim Turner so rightly made us all aware we are just stewards and have very few rights. Facebook can pull the carpet out from under us all anytime we choose.

I’m Bigger than You!

The second point I would like to make concerns network overlap. When you have a certain network of friends in common with another person does it automatically mean that the person with the larger network can automatically claim ownership of those friends or see them as belonging to them more than to the other. And does having a big network make you somehow better or more powerful than those with smaller networks. It raises the question when people complained that they were tagged in a note and the message was spread throughout “their” network.

Artificial Limitations Of A Scarcity Mindset

I think people need to realise that you don’t own your facebook network in the same way you might own your autoresponder list. Where there is overlap between my network and your network only people who maintain a scarcity mindset will try and draw lines and say this part is mine, this part is yours and this part we share. They are placing artificial limitations on something that doesn’t obey the laws of linear perception. The real value of a network is not measured in such simplistic terms its is measured in terms of relationship, connectivity and responsiveness.

Feeling Protective

There are people who have worked hard to build a quality based network who might feel protective about the asset that they created. It is pointless to try to conjure walls around something that can’t be boxed in this way. It goes against the very nature of Facebook. With 6 degrees of separation you can always find anyone if you know who the connectors are.

You Can’t Force People

Facebook has the required protection levels already in place. No on can force anyone to become friends so for those who might be worried about exposing their network to undesirables they can put their minds at rest. If someone acts inappropriately you always have the choice to remove them if you feel they have abused your friendship.

Further Ripples

What often happens is that a “wrong doer” might still be connected to a large portion of your network. Their actions will still cause ripples. So it is up to your friends to exercise their own discretion and judgement to decide what policy they choose to adopt. You don’t need to worry or concern yourself on this matter except perhaps to inform the person of the consequences of their actions if you have the time and the compassion.


You attract what you focus your attention on. Thanks to Brian for so eloquently pointing this fact out in his recent Note. I have been split on this subject myself so I understand the dilemma. Constantly worrying about spam will only tend to attract this to you. Instead it would be better to concentrate on the types of people who you would like to influence and attract into your network

Servants of the Network

We are already starting to realise the power and potential within facebook. Different tribes are forming made up of people who share the same values and want to build a new social media culture. Those who are truly shining are those who have become servants to the network they understand that by serving others all their needs are met. That by adding value their reputation and standing is increased and that by participating in discussion threads they are helping strengthen the tribal bonds.

Ask not what your network can do for you but what you can do for your network”

Tribal Music

I remember reading a book that describes village life in Western Africa and says that when people play music there are no distinctions between the performers and the audience. Everyone in the tribe participates in some way, whether it is dancing, drumming, singing or just clapping along to the rhythm. Similarly on facebook there will always be more talented drummers and dancers but that doesn’t mean that the singers or clappers are not important. If you take them away something very valuable has been lost. It’s the participation in a group experience that is recreating those tribal connections and what gives that sense of community an belonging.

Tyrant Taxation

Those who want to hold onto outdated hierarchical models of organisation will find themselves marginalised. Those who want to define strict boundaries between the leaders and the followers might miss the real potential that is emerging. I am not saying leaders won’t be important its just that they will wield their power in a different way. It is the difference between a tyrannical king who lays down rigid laws and regulations and imposes heavy taxes and an Enlightened Ruler who is adored by his people because of his character and his sense of justice, A king who truly serves his people will build loyalty based on love and trust and be transparent in all his actions.

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  1. Thanks Ian for another “post that makes you mmmm…” (reminds me of that song..remember?)

    Anyway, yes without a doubt the more value you add to individuals – the more difference you can make, the more your serve your network.

    As for the leadership/power debate it’s an interesting one I’m not sure I fully grasp just yet but I would hazard a guess and say within social networks leaders may put themselves forward as candidates but ultimately the rest of the tribe dictate who the leaders are.

    Doesn’t the tribe assign the power to the leaders rather than the leaders seeking out the power?

    It’s only Monday morning and in at the deep end with this…mmm

    Glen Crosier
    Brighton, UK

  2. Ian,
    You hit so many nails on the head (again).
    I like everthing you said, especially the tribal music analogy. In a community, the audience are a much part of the performance as the musicians.

  3. Johan Cyprich says:

    The problem with Facebook and other social networking sites is that you have no control over your network. Your account can be disabled at any time if you violate their rules, which they never define clearly and change randomly to their advantage.

    The best way to build a network is to build your own community through a blog, forums, or a portal. You then don’t have to worry about losing all your data due to system crashes like the recent event on Twitter. Your community is also more targeted to your business, unless social networking sites where you have thousands of random users.

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