I tried to use Friendwheel to analyze my Facebook friends and their connections. I was told that I had too many. Heaven forbid.
I needed to come up with a list of people who could help me with something I’m doing at CUNY — a very neat project in entrepreneurial journalism I’ll blog about shortly — and so it was quite handy to just dig into my list of Facebook friends and find likely prospects. I also find that I’m making contacts with people in new ways. For me, it’s more effective than LinkedIn has ever been and I’m not sure why that is: maybe it’s more fun; maybe it’s because I have more friends; maybe it’s because it became hotter and so lots of my friends joined. By the way, I maintain my policy of friending only people I know. I wish there were a way for me to meet the other people I don’t yet know. I’m not sure what that is; to have tiers of friendship sounds awfully snobbish. But maybe there’s a need to have virtual mixers.
First Scott Heiferman and then Jason Kottke tried to tamp down the yeasty enthusiasm for Facebook’s platform by making comparisons with AOL, arguing that this was just another closed network. (Heiferman has since said that he has changed his thinking but he doesn’t have time to explain how. Damn. Kottke has amplified his thinking here. )
They hhavead a good and interesting argument, but after thinking about this a lot, I’ve come to disagree — because the two services are closed for different reasons: AOL was closed to give AOL control over us and our money. Facebook is closed to give us control over our identities and communities. AOL tried to “own” — their language back then — our relationship with them. Facebook enables us own our relationships with our friends. Kottke complains that my stuff on Facebook is not searchable on Google, but I think that’s the point; I should decide what I want to be searchable and findable to the world instead of just my friends. Yes, it’s closed, but I get to build the walls this time.
I’ve also argued, agreeing with these gentlemen, that Facebook needs to be more open if, indeed, it intends to become the Google of people. It needs to let me export and open to the world more of my faces. It needs to let me import more of my identity from elsewhere on the internet. It needs to help me organize and present that better. Will it do all that? I have no idea. The platform, I think, is a first step. It’s the next steps that matter.
When I was at Davos (OK, I’m place-dropping), I sat in on a brainstorming about how to keep the connections we make there alive the rest of the year. It’s hard. Davos is a safe world: Those who are invited there with you are there for a reason and so it’s much easier to strike up a conversation and exchange a business card than it is down off the mountain. It was hard to figure out how to extend that.
But lately it has occurred to me that Facebook gives us each our own Davos. We have control over or identities and communities. We befriend people we know. We use it to make new connections. It feels remarkably similar. Just without the snow. And Bono.
Facebook was down for a few hours this morning. I was getting the FB DTs.
On the wall at the Guardianista group on Facebook, of which I am a proud member, Stephen Brook reports this:
I quote from today’s Evening Standard media diary: “An explanation for the Guardian’s new obsession with Facebook: editor Alan Rusbridger has just joined the social networking site. Rusbridger has acquired 18 friends, most of whom are inevitably Guardianistas. Elsewhere on Facebook, Guardian hacks have formed their own online group, where they have been grumbling about the paepr’s redesigned website. Guardian online chief Emily Bell replied: ‘I would bet my boots the NYT won’t have a Facebook page with their own employees describing their output as shite.’ Indeed.”
To which the Guardian’s director of digital content, Emily Bell, adds:
Evening Standard Gets Media Diary Stories from Facebook Wall
says it all really
To feed my Facebook obsession: the unofficial Facebook blog. (via Martin Stabe)
Here’s son Jake’s latest Facebook app: Scratchpad.
The Guardian asks 10 media biggies why they joined Facebook and then writes an editorial about the importance of it all. Good, I’m not the only one going overboard.