What’s the point of Facebook?

December 15, 2007 By: erik Category: Internet, Musings, News 2,077 views

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Facebook ExclamationMany of you already know that I signed up for Facebook the other day. Several people have shown their surprise that it took me so long to jack into the matrix. I’m still learning about it, but so far I’m impressed. I’ve heard it called “MySpace done right”, and I have to agree to some extent. But what’s the point of these social networking sites?

The best argument I’ve seen so far was in a July blog entry by Paul Phillips.

It’s pathetic that when my contact information changes, there’s still no simple way for me to change it one place and expect the people I know to be able to find my phone number. There was/is a company called Plaxo that tried to address that but who they faced the giant chicken-and-egg problem that everybody does; unless most everyone uses and knows about plaxo, it’s of little use. But Facebook has thirty million users and is signing up 100,000 a day. Mission mostly accomplished.

At the very minimum there is some value in that. I have my contact information entered and I control who can see it. If my mobile number changes, I change it in my Facebook profile and everyone I care about gets an update.

Another value I immediately notice is that it serves as sort of a “blogging light” platform where people that don’t have the time, energy, interest, or technical savvy to maintain a real blog can easily post updates about what they’re up to and the people that care about them can check up with them.

The other ingenious idea that is causing Facebook to succeed is that they have a public API that allows anyone to write applications that can use the social networking structure of Facebook to do interesting things. Writing one of those goes on the enormous “if I had the time” pile of my interests.

How much I will use it remains to be seen, but I decided it was worth signing up if only for the address book sharing system that it provides. My profile is here, but they cleverly make it so that you have to sign up to see anyone’s profile. And even then you can only see the profiles of your friends or other people in your geographical region.

So anyway, for any of my readers who are not yet plugged into the hive mind, I would recommend that you spend 15 minutes giving it a try. At the very least it’s interesting to see how old people you knew in high school look now.

P.S. Can one of you seasoned ‘bookers explain WTF “poking” is all about?

  • Regarding poking: When a man and a woman love each other…

  • Heather

    You can do more than poke now, you can chuck sheep at each other, you can hadouken each ( I have no clue what that means)other, I could go on and on… I have both myspace and facebook, I’m not totally sold on Facebook, although it does have it’s redeeming values……..

  • Jane, I’m confused. So this is only between opposite sexes? Was it wrong of me to ‘poke’ sgazzetti?

    Heather, you can’t possible mean that you prefer Myspace to Facebook?? Myspace has redeeming value that Facebook lacks?

  • poking is just a way to say hi without having to actually type out a message. my guess on ‘hadouken’ is that it is related to the noise than ken and ryu made before throwing fireballs in the video game street fighter.

    anyway, you can poke anybody, anytime.

  • Right. It’s how 12-year-olds flirt with each other.

  • Erik, let me rephrase that: When two people love each other…

    Dude. I have no idea what the hokey-pokey poking is all about.

  • Zhu

    I’m on Facebook too but I don’t like it much. Too messy, too complicated, to intrusive almost. I feel like I’m speaking at my co-workers, my boss, my students, my friends back in France and my old friends in the same way. Maybe I’m too European for it…

    I don’t really see the point.

  • I joined because it was the only way to get in touch with someone whose contact details I had lost.
    I spend about five minutes a day checking people’s status, but it amazes me the amount of time other people spend on it playing games, exchanging videos, drawing on their “fun” walls, and taking quizzes. And throwing things at each other, obviously.
    Kids today…

  • That’s funny, since the only quiz I’ve taken so far was one that I got notified, “Simon got 100% correct on this quiz! Can you match his score?” Kids today indeed.

    I got 86%. 🙁

  • Yeah, well I only took that quiz because someone challenged me.
    86%? IN YOUR FACE, Rasmussen!

  • Heather

    Well cause I’m a GIRL I like to make things pretty and I love love love that you can change the design of your myspace, like right now for obvious reasons, mine is Christmas themed…….

  • Heather, that’s exactly the reason why I prefer Facebook. 🙂

  • Just when you thought “poking” couldn’t sound any dirtier…

    I feel dirty

  • I’m with Zhu and Erik above. What is the point and yes, it’s gotta be all young kids on there.

    It seems like a good idea, and probably is, but the other social sites seem to offer better interaction.