Saturday, August 25, 2007

If friends were only that easy to make

There is difference between companionship and friendship. This is especially true with social networks where friends are as easy to come as water in oceans. Under the all that veneer of choosing relationships, lies the (often) superficiality of online relationships.

Is that co-worker who you befriended really your friend and not the obnoxious jerk he is in real life?

Meg Pickard writes about the ‘one-size-fits-all’ friendship that is in vogue on social networking sites – Facebook, in Meg’s case.

The problem with Facebook, Meg thinks is this:
The trouble with Facebook is that it’s a confused social space. There are too many different facets of personality being exposed through social openness. So much so, in fact, that it gets a bit difficult to manage. For example, at present on Facebook, I have (among others) the following listed as “Friends”:
* My husband
* Several people I’ve known since I was 11
* College friends I haven’t talked to in 15 years
* My boss
* A couple of people from university I’d lost touch with
* Several people I know from t’internet, but haven’t met / don’t actually know
* A few people on a mailing list I belong to
* A handful of family members
* A few people who work for me
* At least one ex boyfriend
* People who I’ve seen around the office but never exchanged more than words of greeting with

While I obviously wouldn’t have connected with these people via Facebook if I hadn’t wanted to, it’s pushing the definition a bit to lump all of them together into the same bucket, labelled “friends”.

Why? Because most of them aren’t strictly friends (although they’re all lovely, obviously).

After mentioning the ‘eccentric fellow who keeps trying to befriend me and everyone out there’, Meg also offers suggestions:
1. The ability to add unfriends — the people I don’t know but may want to and vice versa, the people whose befriendings I’ve ignored because of the way Facebook works.

2. The ability to create personal-invite only groups and then be able to manage permissions etc. – Meg thinks Online Friendships should start with groups, under which users are able to group their friends and that ‘eccentric fellow’.

Jeff Jarvis also offers his suggestion on how to deal with the Friendship problem and this similar to Meg’s Group Solution.

Jeff wants Social Networking sites to give users tools to show ‘some folks some stuff and others other stuff and let us deal with that’.

Managing Friendships is a tough business in real life.
Managing Online Friendships has become all too algorithmic and only relentless self-promoters are enjoying the Million Friend Parade.

Check out Meg's writing on the issue in detail here, which is supported by great graphics.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The two groups battling for the soul of Facebook

Broadly speaking, there are two groups, who are not exactly battling but who will eventually decide the future of Facebook.

In one corner, there are the ‘original’ Facebookers – the Young and the Restless College Crowd, who were the first to adopt Facebook, happily exhibiting their ‘cars, abs, and/or drinking abilities’, eager to see how their high school friends are doing in life (later, when out of college, always happy if the friends are not doing any better than them).

In the opposite corner are the 'late-on-scene','I-am-too-self-important-for-this-town' crowd from Silicon Valley and elsewhere – the self promoters (Valleywag’s pet peeves Calacanis and Scoble), the PR hacks, the Venture Capitalists who felt being left out by the hip web 2.0 crowd.

Owen Thomas describes this crowd in glowing terms:
(the self promoters are) spamming the less-important people who have volunteered to be your "friends" -- people who are really just fans, to whom you have no meaningful relationship.

It will be interesting to find out how this battle between the ‘natives’ and the ‘geezers’ plays out – may be, we shall again get to read a superfluous essay on the class wars and social netwroking sites, this time on Facebook.

The Bubble Boys and Girls of Facebook
Web 2.0, Facebook, and the Frog who got out of the well
Platform Wars 2.0: your Platform is just a widget on mine
A-Listers: Navel Gazing dies hard

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reality Check for Facebook Developers

Kevin Barenblat, co-creator of SpotDJ has written an op-ed piece on Venturebeat where he paints the realistic picture of the challenges developers of Facebook applications face in a hugely crowded field.

As of now, 100,000+ programmers have signed up as Facebook Platform Developers – I suspect many of these are young programmers or people who did not find much currency in blogging and assorted web 2.0 opportunities.

- There are now more than 3000 Facebook apps.

- 70% of Facebook users already have applications on their page.

- Nine of the top 12 Facebook apps are owned by Slide (4), RockYou (4), and Facebook (1).

- Only 42 of over 3000 apps (1.4%) have over 1M users, and only 150 (5%) have over 100,000 users.

- While the blogging hordes get obsessed with SEO, Facebook Developers are getting heavy with NFO (News Feed Optimization) but here too the going is pretty tough - less than 0.2% of possible news feed items actually show up in the user’s Facebook feeds.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Facebooks costs Australian Businesses $5 billion a year

A recent report from the SurfControl, an internet filtering company, calculates that if an employee in an Australian Business spends an hour each day on Facebook – busy poking, trawling, bird watching and other assorted activities, it costs the employer $6200 a year and there are around 800,000 workplaces in Australia – reaching to a collected tally of $5 billion a year.

While it is not sure whether all these workplaces have employees enamored with Facebook, there are other social networking sites to boot.

It is still not clear whether social networking can be harvested for professional ends; you seriously can’t imagine spending 1 hour daily on LinkedIn.

Richard Cullen from SurfControl says that there are Facebook groups dedicated to slacking off at work.

But what is true for businesses in Australia may also be true for businesses everywhere.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Outgoing PC Magazine Editor gives thumbs down to Vista

Isn’t it odd that the journalists and politicians speak the truth or whatever is bogging them down, only after they are done with their jobs? Outgoing PC Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jim Louderback, has this to say about Vista in his last editorial:

"I've been a big proponent of the new OS over the past few months, even going so far as loading it onto most of my computers and spending hours tweaking and optimizing it. So why, nine months after launch, am I so frustrated? The litany of what doesn't work and what still frustrates me stretches on endlessly. The upshot is that even after nine months, Vista just ain't cutting it. I definitely gave Microsoft too much of a free pass on this operating system: I expected it to get the kinks worked out more quickly. Boy, was I fooled! If Microsoft can't get Vista working, I might just do the unthinkable: I might move to Linux."

Mr. Louderback was unhappy with Vista’s Driver handling, shared drive that system can’t find, the redesigned Network Settings, and how hard it is for the system to connect to wireless connections after waking from sleep.

Seamless experience, which was the promise given by Vista, or was it?

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