Welcome to the bloggy home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Percolate and general internet tinkerer. This site is about media, culture, technology, and randomness. It's been around since 2004 (I'm pretty sure). Feel free to get in touch. Get in touch.

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Facebook Questions (Round Two)

This morning there was an article in The Washington Post about the Facebook. The article was titled “Click Clique: Facebook’s Online College Community” and discusses the impact of the Facebook, especially at GW. Much of the article talks about how people on the Facebook use their number of friends to figure out social standing. “You can compare the number of “friends” you have listed in your profile to the number of “friends” your roommate has, to calibrate how good you should feel about yourself,” the article says. Overall the article is interesting, but nothing extraordinary. A while ago you might remember that I asked anyone who used the Facebook to explain how they used it. Well, lots of people responded and I’ve decided to bring a second round of questions based on those responses. You’ll see someone’s comment indented followed by my own comments/questions. If you could post answers in the comments section that would be great.

This whole project comes from my trying to understand why the Facebook is so much more successful than Friendster. Of course, I don’t have the numbers to back this up, but this seems like a very serious trend in colleges and I want to understand. I suspect much of the reason is that the Facebook takes social networking and makes it local. It actually adds some useful elements because everyone who uses it is in the same place. It’s also interesting that entire school communities are open to viewing, in comparison to Friendster where you can only view profiles of friends.

Without any further ado, here are you comments and some more questions to answer (I pulled certain sentences from some comments and did minor editing such as correcting spelling):

Ben:
The way he explained it to me, he used it to promote parties, study groups, bowling outings, breakfasts, etc. While I’ve never used it, it seemed to me like he was using it as a more local Craig’s List (where you can see pictures of people) or some type of interactive Evite.

The Evite comparison is interesting. What makes Facebook better/worse than Evite? Does anyone use both?

Laju:
(if you register your cell phone, everytime you get “poked” it’s an obnoxious text message on your phone) . . . the Facebook does work well for sending out invitations about events, but then again so does Evite.

There’s that Evite comparison again. What about the cell phone thing, is that useful? Do you find it obnoxious? Do you think having your cell phone number on there is dangerous in any way?

Chris:
I think that “the Facebook� gives college students the much needed ability to communicate with their old High School friends, and keep a constantly updated list of their “new� friends. When many students venture away from the comforts of their structured homes, some for the first time, and leave their friends behind staying in touch becomes hard. “the Facebook� allows them to send messages instantly without the hassle of dealing with finding e-mail addresses. I find that it also helps, more towards the beginning of the year, to keep track of your new friends. Meeting 30 people in a day can be changeling, but compound that every day for the first week and it is impossible to remember everybody’s name and room. By going and “friending� people it provides an accessible list of this information as well as other interesting things (i.e. favorite movies, music, books, and home town). Another widely used feature of this innovative site is the “group� part of the site which allows people to create a blog-like forum that people from the same university can join to meet people with similar likes and dislikes. This feature is widely exploited by promotion companies who advertise their parties by sending messages through the “groups� or by posting to the message board. On a whole the usefulness of “the Facebook� is just beginning to be seen, as more schools are included and integrating into the network the potential is exponential on many levels.

The email point is very interesting. How much do you use email? How often do you check it? I’ve been reading recently that young people are increasingly moving away from email, often seeing the technology as antiquated. Is there anyone else who uses the Facebook instead of email?

Do you use groups? If so what groups and why? Is this useful? Also, what about these promotion companies? Are they students? Have you gone to parties of theirs?

Finally, speaking of this potential, where do you see the Facebook going? What would be good features to add?

BJ:
Well I personally use the face book as a tool to help me waste time when I’m trying to get some work done. But for others that I know it has become an addiction;
people are on it for hours searching random things and people.

What is it that’s addicting? Why do people enjoy this? How have you avoided it?

Beth:
Ok heres how it works… Its basically like an AIM profile with a picture. You post your likes/dislikes, etc. and then everyone on Facebook can look you up and ask you to be their friend. After gaining a few friends you can see which friends you are connected to through other friends. You can also join groups within the site to find people with similar interests as you. The whole thing is kind of pointless, but its fun to look at when your avoiding homework/studying. I guess the whole point of it is to connect people from high school and college. I actually found a guy from elementary school which was kind of funny.

I think the AIM comparison is interesting, I know it’s easy to get obsessed with checking away messages. Are there other people who see these similarities? Any other comments on them?

Any other stories about meeting someone you haven’t talked to for a while through Facebook?

Matt:
The biggest comparison i can make is that its like AIM, its just a more elaborate and detailed form of checking away messages and AIM profiles. People can waste lots and lots of time just checking away messages, the Facebook is the same thing, instead with the Facebook I can waste time and be like, “oh, Matt’s favorite movie is so and so . . . huh never knew that”. . . or “that movie sucks” . . . thats basically it. I hate The Facebook, but yet i must admit ive kinda gotten addicted to checking peoples profiles, and different kinds of groups, but i could live without it.

AIM profile comparison comes up again. What about the favorites section? Why is it fun to find out people’s favorites? Also, anyone else not like it yet find themselves addicted?

Travis:
As far as the Facebook goes, I agree with everyone’s comments that it is addicting and a big time waster, but it provides a way for meeting people other than a party, bar or class. As a relatively shy person myself, and since I am friends of people who don’t like to go out to big parties, its hard for me to meet girls, and with this facebook thing, I have been poked and messaged by a handful (which is a few more than I expected). Now some of these girls I didn’t even think twice about but last year I met two in person after they contacted me through the facebook and it has lead to some interesting experiences. Neither of these worked out but I did learn a lot and it presented me with situations I wouldn’t have been in otherwise. It was weird to think that I could end up dating someone I met on the internet and it ran through my mind how it would sound explaining that to people I know, but I think it is a wave of the future and there is no harm in having some fun meeting new people.

So I guess to me the Facebook is an online community where you can meet people at your own school easily, and at a large school like mine it gives you a chance to meet people you may never see otherwise. It also allows you to put a face to a name when a friend is telling a story, or asks if you know some one, you can “facebook them� and see who it is.

What do other people think about meeting dating partners on Facebook? Is this a weird idea? What about compared to internet dating in general? Has anyone else dated someone they met on the Facebook? What happened?

What about this idea that it helps provide community to large schools? That’s fascinating because I know at NYU it was incredibly hard to feel any sense of community. Do those of you that go to large schools feel the same way? How and why does it achieve this?

Here’s a quick recap of the questions:

1. What makes Facebook better/worse than Evite? Does anyone use both?
2. What about the cell phone thing, is that useful? Do you find it obnoxious? Do you think having your cell phone number on there is dangerous in any way?
3. How much do you use email compared to Facebook messages (or just in general)? How often do you check it? Why is Facebook better/worse than email?
4. Do you use Facebook groups? If so what groups and why? Is this useful?

5. Also, what about these promotion companies? Are they students? Have you gone to parties of theirs?

6. Where do you see the Facebook going? What would be good features to add?

7. What is it that’s addicting about the Facebook? Why do people enjoy doing this? How have you avoided it (if you have)?

8. Are there other people who see these similarities between the Facebook and AIM? Any other comments on them?

9. Any other stories about meeting someone you haven’t talked to for a while through Facebook?

10. What about the favorites section? Why is it fun to find out people’s favorites? Also, anyone else not like it, yet find themselves addicted?

11. What do other people think about meeting dating partners on Facebook? Is this a weird idea? What about compared to internet dating in general? Has anyone else dated someone they met on the Facebook? What happened?

12. What about the Facebook helps provide community to large schools? Do those of you that go to large schools feel the same way? How and why does it achieve this?

Thanks for the help.

December 28, 2004