Sunday, May 31, 2009

Facebook stuff

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. When I first signed up I saw it as a backstage party for the Blogosphere, a place where I could talk directly to other bloggers and interact with their friends. Then I began to see how some of my friends in the sideshow world were using it as a massive networking tool, a place where they could keep each other up-to-date with what was going on in their corner of the world and work on connections for times they would be on the road. Then a virtual high school reunion began to take shape, and I found myself reconnecting with people I haven't talked to in nearly twenty-five years - longer, in some cases.

It's fun. It provides an easy (if somewhat bland) method of one-to-many communication. It lets you keep track of those parts of their lives your friends are willing to share. It even helps you get a sense of how bored people are, based on the number of surveys and quizzes they're taking each day.

But I also hate Facebook. I blame it for an overall decline in the level of conversation - quantity-wise, at least - on the blogosphere. Some of the best and longest-running bloggers I know of have abandoned their blogs in favor of Facebook. And while blogs are a one-to-all form of communication, Facebook only allows other members of Facebook, or even designated friends, to read items that an individual has posted. Instead of madmen shouting on the commons, it is a restricted-access cocktail party.

Somehow, either automatically or through some accidental combination of clicks (possibly by a kitten who likes to help me type), Facebook prompted me to check if any of my Hotmail contacts were also on Facebook. It's been a while since I last did that, so I said yes.

There were quite a few people who hadn't shown up in the last check. Two in particular - one a long-lost blogger, one of the first bloggers I ever read and one of my favorites, a formerly prolific blogger who hasn't blogged regularly in over two years, and not at all in the past six months, and another a semi-estranged friend from both online and off who is one of the finest writers I have ever read, who hasn't been writing much in the past year or so, at least not anywhere that I could see.

I sent them both friend requests. I'm hoping they both accept them.

Facebook is a little funny, privacy-wise. It is somewhat insistent that you use your real name - and if you intend to use it to reconnect with people you've fallen out of touch with, that's a pretty good idea. But it also has an e-mail search feature that allows you to search for individuals just by their e-mail addresses. I learned the names of two people on my e-mail list that way today. I would have learned a third, of a friend who put a lot of effort into protecting her privacy, except I've known her actual name for well over six years, though I never told her this until today. (Wish lists can also be a little funny, privacy-wise.)

For privacy reasons I don't have a link to my Facebook account here. But if you'd like to friend me on Facebook, just drop me an e-mail at the contact address in the "About Me" link. Be sure to let me know who you are!


...tom... said...

Instead of madmen shouting on the commons, it is a restricted-access cocktail party.

Exactly. And that is a bad thing...

A freaking gated community for crying out loud. Whether you intend it to be or not.

Imagine the Founding Brothers on facebook. Gawd, we would still all be having afternoon tea and crumpets.

'blaxygov' then 'habindi'

hedera said...

In general, I agree with you about the bad effects of the Facebook restrictions. And yet - as you notice, it's a great way to keep in touch with people you otherwise might lose completely - like the people I worked with before I retired. I have NOT abandoned my blog - I have incorporated my blog into Facebook, just as you have. AFAIK I've never had anyone read or comment on any of my posts in Facebook; I assume they're put off by the length.

I see they are going to allow you to use a "user name" for Facebook. This will just make it weirder; I think they should stay with the personal name.