Thursday, March 05, 2009

Good with Faces

Because of Facebook, I started keeping in touch with friends more. I actually found this method of contact completely by accident.

In my profession, we answer questions for people. So we value information and communication highly. Librarians are often talking about new technologies. Web 2.0, the phenomenon where consumers help put content on the web, is a big thing for us.

Even so, I rarely checked my Myspace page, and didn't even look at my Facebook page that much. Until I found the Facebook aps.

It's not the aps that make Facebook. They are cheesy and simple, which is their virtue. But they are part of the package that made me pay attention to Facebook. Facebook combines some of the most popular but lightweight parts of the web: games, twitter like statuses, photo-sharing, pseudo-blogging, into a sort of centralized time waster slash social space. It also saves you time by prioritizing your time wasting for you: it brings your friends updates to you, eliminating of the need to hop from site to site checking a bunch of webpages, blogs, twitter feeds, yetcetera.

The games are all bite sized, easy to do on breaks and as small timewasters. Many of the other aps, like Flair, are interactive, allowing you to pick your own motifs and even create your own throw away content.

So, fiddling with the games held me over until more people my age started playing on Facebook, and have kept me checking in regularly so that now it's a habit. As a result, I'm having lots of little conversations with people I knew from high school, college, and old work places. It's hella fun, and I predict that this kind of service will be a sort of gold standard for future web surfing. People are very sentimental about their personal history, and having a website keep track of it for you is very handy.

The aps also act as conversation starters: small notes, pictures, short status comments and digital gifts leading to little but common conversations. This is a great resource for connectivity. How many times have you been disuaded from talking to an old friend by the arduous task of picking up the phone? Daunted by the seeming impossibility of looking them up? Even overwhelmed by the thought of writing a coherant email. You certainly won't visit very often across the state, or cross coast. Pre-Facebook, running into old friends was often by mistake. Anything that makes contact easy is a social good.

To be fair, I'm not entirely pleased. Recently, there was a kerfuffle over facebooks terms of service. It looked like Facebook was making an IP landgrab of epic proportions. They were all over the news saying it wasn't so, but if a Web 2.0 company doesn't know the difference, I would suggest you find a different place to host pictures and creative writing. Why? Web 2.0 is about consumers creating content for commercial interest. If the commercial interst can't tell the difference between what's yours and theirs, the you is S.O.L. because the commercial interest has the lawyers.

However, compared to sites such as Friendster, which is spam riddles and dull, and Myspace, which is cheesy looking and devoid of content other than pre-fab decoration, Facebook is clean looking and offers lots of pleasant little distractions while you're checking up on your friends.

So put IP elsewhere and use Facebook for what it's good for. Play, relax, talk to your friends.

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