If you join new social networking/web 2.0 things as research for work, you tend to find the same friends and acquaintances there. For me that group includes Howard Rheingold, my IFTF colleague Sean Ness, Jerry Michalski, and a group of Chinese/China-focused digerati who are a bridge across the Chinese- and English-language internet. Some of these people I know personally: Isaac Mao, Keso, Frank Yu, Kaiser Kuo, Sam Flemming, and Rebecca MacKinnon; and some I just know by their screen names or online correspondence, like Flypig and Micah Sittig.
One thing it’s fun to do is to see who other people are following. Having recently joined FriendFeed, I found the usual suspects and decided to browse through China IT maverick Keso’s “subscriptions”. Keso has subscribed to over 600 people’s FriendFeeds. In this one place you could, if you wanted, trace out the intersections of Chinese and non-Chinese digerati.
There I was struck by the new iconography that lets people “read” one another even if they can’t speak the same language, and helps you gauge the extent to which people participate in various communities. My FriendFeed, for instance, displays just 3 icons, one for this blog, one for my Twitter feed, one for gmail/gtalk (I couldn’t get my LinkedIn to work, and both my del.icio.us and flickr streams are group accounts). FriendFeed has 43 different “services” each with its own icon, ranging from Digg, YouTube and “blog” to more obscure things like Disqus, Mister Wong, and identi.ca. You don’t have to speak Chinese or French or English to be able to pick out the web 2.0 icon superheroes I found on Keso’s subscription feed, such as linsen and Schee Tzuhan:
but Jacky Zhao wins: