the empty set

Social unnetworking


I have a strange relationship with technology lately. Things tend to break, malfunction, bug more often than usual. My levels of electrostatic fluid must be high.

Anyway, with the summer closing in and automn's cold lick too close to admit, I felt an urge to clean up my bookmarks, especially the social network ones. Don't ask me why. Not quite sure if I was fleeing or snuggling up. Go figure out.

The number of services in which I had an account just for the sake of having one was astounding. These accounts just stood there, idle, or patiently aggregating the little crumbs I leave on the net, with little or no life of there own. Linked to people I'd never met, I suddendly felt the urge for space.

So, I ran through my arm's long list of bookmarks, and patiently set out to discover the »Delete my account» links throughout the various dashboards and setting panes. Not as obvious as one would anticipate. While I eventually found them, either through the Help or FAQ sections, some were not activated, others required you contacted the owner by e-mail or some were plain non existant.

You can checkout any time you want, but you can never leave!

The Eagles

An interesting exercice, considering that the basic principle of a social network, or any other webapp or website for this matter, should be to let you leave as easily as you join. Moreover, let you leave and take your shared data with you. How many of these web sites offer some kind of export function I ask you? Not many believe me.

It's interesting to note that not one offer the option to warn your contacts that you've left. On the other hand, they all try to scrape through your address books when you join to send out invitations to all the new e-mails they find… with or without your consent sometime. Got burned once.

So, Friday I bid farewell in no special order to Jaiku, Pownce, Rollyo, Mixin, iLike, MyBlogLog, Tumblr, Vimeo, Virb°, Bebo, Mag.nolia, Brightkite, LiveJournal, Vox, MySpace,, Xanga, LightStalker, SumgMug and Plaze.

Now, don't get me wrong: I like a number of these websites and services (really). I just don't use them. This said, I'll continue to recommend them when appropriate, and I might register again one day if needed - who knows. Most of them are innovative and dynamic. I'm just in an overload state.

For no real reason I kept Facebook, Plaxo and Xing going. This might change in a near future. My favourites remaining Flickr, Twitter,,, and Upcoming.

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Hello, my name is David Roessli. I am a freelance web designer and developer based in Geneva, Switzerland.

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