Three figures from BT - 1 x PR lass, 1 x senior tech/sales guy, 1 x background lurker - swanned into the office, down from the big city, crashed with energy, free pens. Turns out they're recruiting sign-ups for BT's latest venture, a business-community-directory-social-network-service called Tradespace that for all the world looks like a BT'd up version of Etsy. At least they "get" that it's not just what a site does, it's who's using it.
Not sure if it's a site for customers to shop from, or for businesses to network via ("B2B", he said, falteringly knowingly). Obviously less focus on "handmade", more on "small business". Communities are in there, in beta. Shops can feature products, leave blog posts, even "fave" other businesses by the look of it.
Something about it feels creepy. Maybe it's just the BT branding - years of learned behaviour kicking that cautious quarter of the cortex into gear. Maybe free pens have jealously betrayed me in the past. Maybe "we" have got used to seeing "social networking" as something that the big guys just don't "do", or "get" - an association of a new class with new technology, a re-kindling of the cyberpunk fire through APIs and KISS. But then we worship Google and Yahoo, so maybe it's not that.
Actually, you know what it is? What makes me edgy?
Lack of avatar pictures.
Isn't that weird? Why do I miss those tiny little squares? Is that why I don't get on so well with FriendFeed? And has anyone done any research into this? What do they mean? Why do they matter?
And can one exist just as an image, discard the whole crazy idea of a string of letters as who, or what we are? Maybe it's time to go anonymous. No, wait.