This article from Sunday's Washington Post (registration now required to read, sorry!) hit the nail on the head for me. I recently joined Facebook and quickly discovered that I run in a lot of entirely separate circles. In real life, these circles never intersect. I can be a totally different person in my work circle than I am with the chorus than I am with my Squidoo buddies than I am with church contacts.
So what happens when you end up in a place like Facebook and you suddenly have friends from all these circles in one place? How are you supposed to act now? I'm not a terribly different person with my different groups, but I do interact with them in different ways. And mashing them all together on Facebook has me a little confused as to what kind of info I want to be posting there. My goal was to provide another forum for my Squidoo stuff, but do my personal connections care about that? (Frankly, does anyone care?) Do my Squidoo connections care about my personal life? And does it really even matter.
My intro to Gather has me pondering a similar question as to what exactly is a "friend" when you are trying to make online connections. I haven't had any issues on Facebook with people I don't know trying to connect with me, but Gather is full of friend requests from folks I've never seen or heard of. Where do you draw lines in defining who is to be your "friend" online? Hmm.