Wednesday, July 18

Facebook Feedback

So it's now been oooh a good three and a bit months since I joined Facebook, and I think I've had a pretty good go at the whole social networking thing. Here are a few observations I've seen, some obvious and some a bit more subtle:

  • For purposes of "catching up" it's great. Unlike with email or phone, you're constantly reminded that the people you know exist, and so you're kinda prompted to drop a quick hello or five.
  • The most commonly used phrase used on the site is "good to hear from you we should def meet up soon".
  • Photo surfing can be very addictive.
  • It allows you to keep a passive interest in your friends - so you can know about what someone is up to without having to directly ask them.
  • It's handling of social graphs is brilliant. Since joining, I've found new mutual friends in at least three separate places, proving that in fact the world is a tiny place.
  • UK users at least don't know the difference between a Grad School and a College.
  • Some people on Facebook seem to throw any kind of privacy regarding themselves out of the window.
  • Even worse, some people on Facebook seem to throw any kind of privacy regarding their friends out of the window.
  • Some people seem to be using Facebook for reasons other than "just a laugh", leveraging it for other things - like me publicising my blog through it.
  • Related to the above, there seems to be a disparity between those who are pretty open with their information and those who are anything but.
  • Facebook is great for cyberstalking.
On the whole though, it is a pretty cool piece of technology and those in charge of the product seem to know what they're doing with it. This in turn brings it a bit of credibility.

For example, take pictures. It took me a while to figure out exactly how Facebook handles them, but once I figured it out it actually deals with them pretty well. For instance, you can control who is able to search for pictures tagged with your name (so in effect hiding that "Show all pictures of xxx" link"), or remove tags from pictures you don't want to show up even if a search was allowed. It's pretty flexible and you can

Of course you can't stop people from uploading pictures of you at all (and further can't stop others from seeing them), but then that's a general problem regarding the Internet and personal social responsibility rather than one of Facebook.

Another handy feature is that of Groups and to similar extent, Events. This allows you to associate yourself with people who may not necessarily be friends yet (if ever). Networks are a similar feature and just as handy in theory, but the fact that the London network (say) is so huge makes me wonder how much thought has been put into its implementation.

So with all this positive feedback, why have I stopped using it as extensively as I was before? Well, we've been here before, with MySpace and the numerous social networks before that.

Unfortunately the popularity of Facebook is ironically what I think will bring it down. The trouble is that the more people join, the more prone to abuse/annoying (please stop inviting your whole friends list to every event you're thinking of going to) and less novel it becomes. It also becomes more of a target for more commercial and marketing purposes; something that has quickly sapped the life out of applications in the past.

So it's all just a fad then? Well maybe. I can only really speak for myself and I'll probably keep my account active but switch to using it on a more passive rather than active level and see how it goes from there.

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