I got Facebook today. Described as “MySpace for the educated,” the Facebook social networking tool links college students with one another. And yes, the service is just as addicting as MySpace but for slightly different reasons. What you notice immediately in searching for people you know is that most everyone is using their real name. You can actually find people and real information about them (email, phone, address, birthday, etc.). Also, the number of total friends matters much less than on MySpace because no total number of friends is displayed on the main page. That’s not to say it entirely avoids people trying to run up their friend counts. What makes Facebook really special is it is a universal information directory to keep in touch with people. There is no excuse for not checking in with people on a regular basis. Sure you still can spend countless hours updating profiles and commenting on people’s pagess but it still makes for less “wasted time” than trying to keep track of so many people that would otherwise need to be emailed, phoned, etc. In actuality, the wasted time is in virtually communicating too much with people you see on a daily basis. When you are half way around the globe, Facebook is a miracle. For instance, I’m not going to call Joe Smith in Maine from Shantou, China just to see how he’s doing because I don’t have the time for that. However, it’s absolutely necessary to have some real connection or history with the people you add as your friends.
A recent NYTimes article said today’s college students make up the “Facebook generation.” It’s true. Within an hour of signing up, sixty people had confirmed being my “friend.” I bet if I sent an email to those sixty people, I would only get replies from ten within the hour. Students are checking their Facebook more than their voicemail and email.
Taking a cue from Zach Lipton, the next step really is syndication in some form of RSS. You can’t check sixty people’s profiles of Facebook everyday. You need a central location to gather information. Facebook syndication should be like the alumni newsletter: when someone makes a big change in their life, the reader should be informed. I don’t know when Jane Smith adds the latest James Bond movie to her favorite movies listing. I do want to know when Jane transfers schools, gets a job, or stars in her school musical.