I have this to say:
Boy, do I disagree with this premise.
First of all, perhaps 148.7 is the maximum number of relationships someone could have in 1998, according to some anthropologist (and even that I disagree with). But a lot has changed in the interim 11 years.
Things just don't work the way they did in 1998. We are an accelerated culture. Things are moving faster, our communication methods move faster, we get and lose friends (and social contacts) faster.
Perhaps you could argue that those few friends whom you could sit around the coffee table with, pouring out your soul are few and far between (as you do state later in the article), but I really don't agree with that either.
The nature of our interaction has changed with this new technology too.
The model, as you state the case, used to be that we'd be uptight and bottled in around our business colleagues and the public at large, only "letting our hair down" with a "few people." It isn't that way anymore and I certainly don't operate that way.
I have become my brand, and those who know my brand know me. I'm a podcaster and an author, I blog frequently and am active in nearly every social network. And anyone who knows me in any of those places knows me, complete and unvarnished. There isn't anything I hide from anyone.
Anyone in the blogosphere who cares to knows everything about me, from the fact that coffee ice cream is my favorite to the fact that I was sad about losing my job recently as newspapers dissolve.
I have a large listening audience (which I'm contractually obligated not to disclose), 17,000+ friends on MySpace, 1,100+ friends on Facebook, 2,900+ following on Twitter. Which of those would I be sitting down to have coffee with? Well, any of them that ask. Who am I going to glean information from? Build business relationships with? Advance strategic partnerships with? All of them.
Instead of parceling out morsels of information to my close associates, I can now share what I know with anyone who needs to know, and they share theirs with me. Who knows what types of questions I will ask my audience on Twitter? or they ask of me?
It's become an ebb and flow of constant information, and constant relationships. I expect and hope that these people trust me, as I trust them, because that's how it works now. I am honest and open and real with everyone in the blogosphere, to the best of my ability.
My connections are WIDE AND DEEP. And no, having 73,000 followers on Twitter isn't meaningless. It increases the chances that whatever I ask will get answered by someone. That's huge. It also says to me that those people think that what I have to say has some value. That's important to me, whether it's 73,000 or 7 who are really listening.
But, as much as I do consider myself to be a brand, who hopefully one day will make money by my presence and my insight, I sure don't look at those 73,000 followers as people who can help me "make more money in less time." For heaven's sake.
And, frankly, someone like you who was just talking to me because he was looking for a business opportunity "to make more money in less time" would be someone I bounce immediately from my Twitter connections list. Cause that person just doesn't get it.