The Internet is powerful at distributing information. It lowers the transaction cost involved in social relationships and both developers and users have taken advantage of this to favor communication with more people than we would ever communicate with face to face. Social software has thus focused on increasing the Dunbarâ??s number of circa 150 people who we are supposed to be able to have meaningful relationships with.
It’s interesting to see how people are developing rules for whom to ‘friend’ on social networks like Facebook. I now have 172 friends on Facebook, a great part of whom I haven’t seen for years. In that way, Facebook isn’t helping me sustain a Dunbar number greater than 150, but it does help me maintain a great number of latent relationships which I suppose I could rebuild if the right occasion arose. There is some sort of comfort in that, I guess.