In our design work we're often creating personal (often mobile) digital services. Social networking naturally permeates the conversation; especially when you're starting with a communication device, but increasingly when designing for converged services like television, portable media devices and of course web sites.
This is some thinking I've been doing lately about the ecosystem of social networks and the problem of managing it all and of keeping the personal separate from the professional.
Some overlap will happen in social networks but maintaining boundaries helps you keep professional contacts eyes off of your private matters, your personal goings on, your family status, your childrens’ accomplishments, etc.
Public. Your personal brand awareness happens here. Create digital acquaintances. Network. Be a person, but be sure to balance out your travelogue with your sharing of insights.
Professoional. Limited to people you‘ve worked with. Don’t dilute this network with digital acquaintances.
Keep these limited to friends and family. These are not professional networking tools. Avoid the urge to accept every friend request. Do you really want to connect with old high school acquaintances?
Keep these close; limited to people you hang with. Old high school buddies and people you met at conferences don’t need this layer of your digital life.
This is not a prescription for others but is pretty much a diagram of my own social network. And yes, as lame as it sounds, that's how I have to view it, as a brand exercise. After all, careers have become brand management of your personal expertise, experience, insights and beliefs.
This is also a reaction to FaceBook's popularity. Facebook is great, but it's risking some odd overlaps when you put close friends, family, high school acquaintances, work colleagues and professional acquaintances in the same space.
FaceBook has changed the way I use Flickr. Now instead of posting famiy pics and hiding them from the public, but hoping grandma is savvy enough to use Flickr (they're not), I post them to family-centric sites (FaceBook or Geni.com) and I post the public stuff on Flickr.