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Do Too Many Contacts Reduce Chat Client Utility?

Robert Scoble complains about IM and Skype being useless to him because the minute he logs on, he's inundated with people wanting to chat.

He touts Adam Curry's proposal of being able to "advertise different status to different groups of people" as being a sexy solution to this problem.

Maybe people don't like talking to me, but I see a major issue with this approach for the Skype and IM developers: how many people are actually faced with this problem? How many people have filled up their contact lists, as Scoble has? Maybe 5%, 10% max of the IM-using population?

Robert, if you don't use the IM or Skype because you have too many contacts, why don't you either cut down your contact list, or take the simple step of creating a second "personal" account? You can add your boss, family, and whomever else you don't mind advertising your online status to to your contact list. I'd argue that if you haven't looked for a way to get around this problem--I just proposed two easy ones--the software isn't that useful to you in the first place.

It's not really worth adding a feature that caters to such a small segment of your market, especially when there are such easily-implementable workarounds.

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Comments (Post | Latest)

1. Mike D. said on Jan 4 2005:

I think Scoble, as the hyperconsumer of all hyperconsumers, is a rare case right now in that a) he is probably in a much-less-than-1% minority of people who have filled up their contact lists, and b) he gladly brings the problem on himself by posting his IM information publicly and inviting people to freely message him.

You and I say "Who the HELL would ever want to do that?" I mean, we probably have *friends* that we don't particularly even want on our IM lists. But what's great about what Scoble does is he's putting himself in the position most of us will be in within a few years, so he feels the pain early. I don't really see how it's great for him, but it's great for the people who are interested in solving the problem (ummm, MSFT). Studying what bugs Scoble today is like studying what will bug the rest of our soon-to-be-info-overloaded society tomorrow.


Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer


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