"How do we scale up the number of quality human relationships one person can sustain by many orders of magnitude? In an increasingly connected world, how does one person interact with a hundred thousand, a million or even a billion people?"
Our one fixed resource is time human attention. As we become increasingly networked in the technological sense, we also become more networked in the social sense.
As our social networks scale up, we move more and more of our interactions to the technological sphere. We can have many more telephone interactions than we can have hand-written letter interactions. When we move from telephone to e mail, the number of interactions between people goes up even more dramatically.
Then we pair our e-mail interactions with a personal Web site, and we start moving our personalities into the technology net, as a way of automating and scaling up the number of relationships even further.
We end up with personal CRM systems to handle our increased interaction load, and then add interfaces from our technology net to our human forms. These interfaces will develop from current-day Palm Pilots and Blackberry's to heads-up display style interfaces in glasses and eventually retinal and neuronal interfaces.
"Hi Jerry, Ahh.., we met back in 1989, May 14th at 7pm, and since then we've exchanged 187 e-mails and 39 phone calls. I hope your cousin's daughter Gina had a wonderful graduation yesterday."
The whole range of interactions becomes organized. Introductions from one person to another, and rating systems become automated.
Currently many people run into barriers as their personal networks approach the range of thousands of people. Soon they will move to the tens of thousands, to the millions and beyond.
With these trends, the friction costs of personal introductions go down, and consequently the value of quality measurement and gatekeeping go up dramatically. As the depth of knowledge in a relationship increases, the threshold point at which you 'really know someone' increases also. It's an arms race of intimacy.
Adrian Scott is founder of Ryze, a business networking community. He is a founding investor in Napster, got his Ph.D. in nonlinear optimization at age 20, and has sung with Placido Domingo and performed with the NYC Ballet.