ifindkarma. elegance is refusal.

January 25, 2010

Where can I whale in 2010?

Filed under: ifindkarma!, it's the economy stupid!, silicon valley!, whales! — ifindkarma @ 4:20 am

It’s Twenty Ten and I’m hungry for something new to add to my steady diet of facebooking, linking in, and tweeting. (2009 was pretty much the year of Twitter for me, thanks to Tweetie 2.)

So I asked myself: On which service can I become a whale in 2010?

Whale, n. One of the biggest users of an Internet service, who together with other whales form its delicious nucleus. Whales are Malcolm Gladwell‘s “Connectors” and they are the foundation of any social network’s etiquette, memory, and wisdom.

Being a whale on a social network can be quite frustrating — Facebook stops us at 5000 connections at which point our iPhone app pretty much stops working; LinkedIn won’t tell people how many connections we have once we’re over 500; and Twitter displays a fail whale whenever they can’t handle the truth.

So why do people become whales? Whales are born, not made; whales cannot NOT whale. It’s in our nature. Plus, being a whale can be quite rewarding: you get a lot of social capital and are able to move among different groups of people to spread interesting thoughts and products. Bonus: Whales also feel inexplicably good when they introduce people who otherwise might never have met.

So where in 2010 will I be able to whale to my big pimpin’ heart’s content?

Of the 30something startups I know who are hiring, this weekend I got more than a dozen invitations from:

Yelp has been around for years, but its recent use of Facebook Connect has given it new life. Foursquare launched last year, but it has gotten really hot in the last month.

Even so, none of my connection counts on these services come close to my friends on Facebook (4997), LinkedIn (“500+” — really??), and Twitter (3838).

Side note: I’m also a fan of Gowalla (180 connections) but I haven’t gotten any new invites on there in a while. I wonder if users are intimidated by places with names like Death Star and Helms Deep.

Memo to all consumer Internet services: You get the behaviors you allow. Whales make it so.

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