Lately, the concept of "friends" seems to have become incredibly diluted by the casual use of the term by Facebook, MySpace et al. But in "the real world" what do you consider to be important when you are making and becoming friends? Is it how long you've known someone? How frequently you meet up? What you have in common? Something more intangible? Also, I'd love recommendations of any books looking at the psychology of how people become friends.
I've decided that I want to research / work in the development of strong, sustainable local communities using social networks, web and mobile technologies and urban design practice (particularly new urbanism). The problem is, I don't know how or where to get started in this field. [more inside]