Dunbar’s number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restricted rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number, but a commonly cited approximation is 150.
One take on this is that there is no way of stretching this number without blurring people over 400 into a meaningless stream of faces that you fail to remember who they are.
I believe there is also a second approach, where you turn constraints into a business model. A big part of the 150 limit will be occupied by your non-professional friends and work colleagues, extended family etc. Leaving you just a limited room for true professional contacts.
Here is where the business model comes in: if you’re willing to sacrifice the relative amount of your personal network, you can in turn resell it to others via introductions and networking facilitation. One could call this occupation community management (as you need to know and have relationship with influencers), but it expends to all sorts of managerial out-reaching roles such CEO or public relations officer. At the end of the day, it also might be the reason why you’re a better freelancer.
How many of your personal contacts are you willing to sacrifice for your career?
Moderating big IT forum is always fun as you get to see all sort of people asking questions that don’t really belong in there. Today we had a case of (probably a teenage) girl, who wanted to know how to hack into her boyfriends MSN account. He refused to share the password and chat logs with her. She took this as a huge trust issue from him and thought that he’s hiding something from here.
While denying access and not talking about this afterwards is probably the worst way to handle this issue, I wanted to ask my Twitter followers about their opinion. The question was simple:
Quick poll: do you think you need to share your email password with your spouse/gf/bf for a healthy relationship (and they with you)?
Feedback was not really surprising. A big no and it seems that they’d sooner break up the relationship than share their credentials.
On a side note, this means that it’s probably easier to phish a password than get the other person to reveal it.
I’m also sharing the answers as they’re fun to read:
I’ve been fascinated with Facebook relationship decisions for a while now. One of the more interesting challenges with this complex term is that it’s not fully transitional. You don’t just go single -> complicated -> dating -> engaged -> married and the same way back. Sometimes you also want to step out from the whole dating thing and say, I’m not even single (as it implies that you’re available for persuasion) but that you’re just not playing the game.
So how do you express this with the user interface? Simple, you make an empty box that anyone can assign meaning to it, but its mostly there to have the most private option and to dissolve any implications of labeling yourself.
With drop-downs, it’s often the case that we want to undo our option but the form won’t allow us. It takes extra attention to detail to allow such option.