anti-social network

I’ve always considered LinkedIn as a sort of grown-up version of Friendster. Instead of Friendster focused on trying to get everyone laid, Linkedin seems to focus on more corporate pursuits, like getting jobs, making connections related to business, and generally growing your corporate network. I haven’t done much with my account there, and I’ve only seen maybe one instance of someone using me to connect to someone I’ve worked with to discuss a new technology they developed.

What I have seen happen more often is that Linkedin is used as an introduction service. Every few weeks I’ll get an email saying “Alice Smith would like to talk to John Doe, who you are two degrees from, click here to accept” and wonder why the first and last person didn’t just email directly. Today someone four people away from me sent an innocous question that I would have answered over email in a second. It probably took a few days, and everyone in the chain that hadn’t heard of the original question asker or the intended recipient had to go along with it.

I know a lot of people say “email is broken” but is it so far gone that people have to climb the corporate ladder just to drop a stranger a note? If we must use systems like this, isn’t there a way to make it less of a hassle?