As I expanded here:
"It is the relationships between people, relationships between us and our interests, relationships between data points and their intersections."
That's the business side of it: patterns, trends, targeting.
But then I wrote more recently that it is:
"time to treat our connections as individuals again, as whole people and not just the sum of their social units."
It's those relationships that matter, that we should cultivate; real ones, with whole people, with depth and care and feeling.
John Johnston wrote that he hoped to make his microcast more personal in episodes to come to which I replied that I look forward to it - and I genuinely do. John has been a worthy acquaintance over the past year but I want to move beyond that with people.
We make connections over the web, on social networks, but they are almost always painfully casual acquaintances; they often lack the depth and care to be truly productive. Either party could go offline and not be missed as there is a feed full of identikit replacements lining up to take their place.
The more I think about it the more I feel we need a shift to the personal side of the equation, the side where we know people and they genuinely matter to each other.
It is amazing that, in real time, we can speak to someone on the other side of the world in any number of ways but this globalisation has come at the expense of "local" on both interpersonal and societal levels.
We have become obsessed with always seeing the bigger picture, the generalisations which homogenise our behaviour, while missing the subtleties and nuance, the unique and the particular.
Relationships are the real social currency but, from an individual perspective, that currency looks markedly different and holds a distinctly different value from that hoarded by the networks.