Monday, 16 July 2007

Another tool without a purpose

ICQ, AIM, Chat-this, Text-the-other, MySpace and now Facebook. Phew. One hundred different ways to get together online and ... what? Just what does one do with all these ways for strangers to get in touch with each other and waste your time? On this, Gonzo talks sense.
Facebook is an improvement on prior networking, in that people are more honest now than previously. All we have to do now is work out out what to do with it. From what I gather, social networking sites are great for teenagers to discuss angst, trade Vogon poetry and news of the latest Glassons sale. For the rest of us, it's a tool without purpose.
I'm inclined to agree.


  1. They're just like blogs in that they are precisely what you make of them.

    If you want to be stupid, there are places dedicated for it. If you want to find interesting, intelligent people -- there are some 1.1billion people on the internet today, surely some of them are worth finding!

  2. Wasps said...
    If you want to find interesting, intelligent people ...

    You find them in James Randi Foundation discussion list.

  3. As a tool for communicating with people I already e-mail, phone and talk to in person, it's not much use to me. As a way of keeping in touch with friends and family overseas, it beats the semi-occasional "what I've been up to" e-mail, though.

  4. I was skeptical too, but it's actually pretty useful. Half of my friends live overseas now, I have a social circle of sorts in Sweden thanks to my girlfriend, and that's just way too many emails to be bothered writing to keep up the facade of being an attentive and caring mate. Facebook means we can all touch base and update each other on various goings on and travel plans with 5 minutes of effort over coffee, rather than laborious email effort.

    The 'friend-finding' networking side of it is a bit odd, but keeping tabs on your mates is awesome.


  5. Where the heck did Facebook come from?
    Up until a month or so ago I'd never heard of it, now I get emails inviting me to join from various people and its mentioned in the same breath as bebo, myspace, and youtube.

  6. I would warn people who are involved in those sites to be careful about posting too much personal details of themselves there.

    Security intelligence services have been doing data-mining of social networking sites for a while, such as described in the following New Scientist article:

    Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites

    Social network data-mining is good for tracking terrorists & criminals, but it might have some unforeseeable consequences (mistaken identity, comment taken out of context) to some names if they travel to the US or Europe.

  7. In principle, being more closely connected to friends and colleagues is great. Right now, since the tools are being developed (and there's a lack of standards), it would take the, shall we say, "non-teenager", too much time to investigate and use them. This is especially true since their value only exists if a sufficient number of people in your personal "network" also use them, and your fellow adults are in the same boat in terms of not caring enough to learn about them. I agree with Josh, above, that it could make a good way to keep in touch with people without having to send multiple "keeping in touch" e-mails. An editorial in Wired magazine this month on Twitter ( started to convince me of this (minus the conclusion that the tools are "collectivist"). Once the usability of these tools becomes easy enough that their audiences extend well beyond those who use them simply for the "coolness" factor, they will really take off. And I guess it's a matter of being more than easy. Developers need to be smart in identifying what kind of information people really want/need to share, and make it as easy as possible to give/receive that information amongst many people and groups.


  8. Been on Facebook for ages now and it's incredibly addictive. It has allowed to to stay in touch with my Kiwi mates back home assorted people I have bumped into from all over the place. I even have friends I have not talked to since primary school.

    Compared to bebo it is brilliant.


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