How do you choose your contacts?
The idea of building up a circle of friends, or a list of useful contacts, in the highly communicative world of the Internet seems to be fairly straightforward. It appears to be much easier to do this on the Internet than in the world of bricks and mortar. The problem comes though, if you want to be picky about the quality of these friends or contacts. Anyone can make friends, but, what use are they if they are fickle, unreliable and have judgements and opinions that cannot be relied upon?
Also, although the small-world cluster effect in theory can provide any individual with access to any person or source of knowledge on the net within a very small number of steps, it has to be remembered that these steps also act as filters. They can block out some or all of the knowledge that would be most useful.
These factors make it imperative that a suitable strategy is employed to ensure that all immediate contacts - those first links into a world of infinite information and knowledge - are chosen rather carefully. This requires a suitably efficient strategy otherwise the search could take a lifetime.
Here then is the problem: there are millions of possible people to choose from, how do you arrange to optimally choose a relative few to be your limited number of prime contacts? Chapter twelve dealt with the problem of establishing trust and proposed a tit-for-tat strategy to establish reliable relationships. This is fine, but, a tit-for-tat strategy takes a considerable amount of time and there will not be the time available to try out millions of possible alternatives. So, how do you pick the best possible out of millions?