I've created an account just to reply to this thread.
Discourse is very powerful for having discussions, and I look forward to it's progress.
However, I do see that a friend or following list is a much needed feature.
For a long time, I've been searching for the perfect software to build a social community based on common interests. For such a community to grow, bonds must be created. Members of the community will be able to better learn about their peers if they had the ability to follow their activities. This would also allow members to join their peer's discussions, knowing that they share a bond. The connection better exposes a member to new ideas, as they gain attention through their peers.
Without such a feature, members will be forced to keep track of their connections through memory alone. Though, I have good faith in a human's ability to retain memory, I doubt that every connection will be on their mind at all times.
A personal example of how a listed connection is a good thing; someone mentioned that my current job was hiring via Facebook. The one who mentioned it was someone that I haven't seen since High School. If I was not following this person, I would more than likely be working somewhere else, if it all.
This feature does not have to appear 'tacked on'.
A simple page or scrolling menu that displays profile pictures will do. Simply click on the user avatar, and you will be at their profile page, having the ability to see their latest activity.
@codinghorror You must be extremely busy, and I couldn't appreciate your work more. But, please, give this feature another look.