Month: May 2007

How did Facebook get in our faces like this?

My main reason for starting this blog was to try to give an opinion of new media developments that are rooted both in my media industry experience combined with a first hand experience of the media in question. Well it is a testament to the power of Facebook that in just a week I’m truly in a position to give an in depth account of the Facebook experience.

Within 1 week I have done the following

Found over 65 people on Facebook that I consider to be friends – that’s actual friends rather than “Friends”.

Posted a number of different albums of favourite photos

Found myself tagged on 7 different people’s albums

Discussed Facebook etiquette with complete strangers

I could go on, my point is that Facebook is so easy to use and so instantly accessible that in the space of a week it has become part of my daily habits and conversations

This should be a simple hygeine factor, but a number of websites like this in the past have not lived up to early promise. Whether it is glacial upload times, or multiple levels of registration/ complicated programmes to download, there are often two or three too many hurdles to overcome which deter the average user.

Facebook keeps it simple – registration can be as easy as inputting your name, e-mail address and picking a password if that is all you want to do.

So that’s getting you registered covered, the really genius thing about Facebook is how it keeps you using it time after time.

By way of introduction, about 3 months ago I registered on MySpace (and my next project will be to go back and explore properly) but once I had done it I simply couldn’t work out what to do next. I had a page with a photo on it and that was it. I haven’t been back in three months

When I logged onto Facebook though, the difference was remarkable. As soon as I arrived I had three requests already waiting to be my friend, I also got e-mails telling me that friends of mine had pictures of me on their pages – Before I was on Facebook I was on Facebook!! That meant that I instantly had something to do as soon as I arrived, which in turn meant that I very quickly started to build up a base of friends which then meant that I started to get a constant stream of news of things that they were all up to.

And that is the magic of Facebook – it gets it’s users to infect each other with the addiction of more usage. Just when you think you’re about to get bored of it you get a request for friendship from someone you haven’t heard of in ages, but are really chuffed to hear from, or someone puts up a terrible photo of you when you were at school, or invites you to join a campaign to protest against bloc voting in the Eurovision Song Contest. It can be very personal, surprising, intriguing and even emotionally engaging. It’s organic and viral in the true sense of the word and unlike a typical “viral” e-mail which will fade away once we’ve all become immune through exposure, Facebook gets you to keep reinfecting each other with a new strain of the virus.

Finally there is the completely inclusive nature of Facebook – I’m nearly 30 and really thought I was too old for this “social networking” scene, but I get here and find that I’m one of the last of my friends to do so. Making personal connections in this way seems to be a pretty much universal desire and Facebook seems to have the potential to span a wide variety of backgrounds, ages and cultures.

That’s it for now on Facebook. Next week I’m going to re-visit MySpace and see if it makes any more sense this time.

Thanks for reading.

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Oh the agonising joy of Facebook

OK, it happened. I said I’d do it and I did, I am after all a man of my word. I finally joined Facebook. I have resisted for a very long time now, but it was all in the name of research after all.

Things I expect to happen next:

Dan will spend approximately 3 hours a day checking his Wall for funny anecdotes etc from people who are his “friends”

Dan will spend approximately another 3 hours a day writing supposedly witty things on other people’s Walls in the hope that they might come back and write on mine and make me look popular.

Dan will lose his job when his employers find out that the expensive laptop they bought him has only been used to manage his Facebook account for the past two weeks.

Dan will start to refer to himself in the third person as that’s how he is used to writing his Status updates. Hmmmm.

On the plus side, I have really enjoyed catching up with people that I haven’t spoken to in ages. My career in media has taken me through a number of different roles and I’ve made a number of good friends, but I can be quite slack at keeping in touch, and Facebook really has helped me to rectify that.

On the other hand, there are some people who I would quite happily never speak to again, who I have felt obliged to accept as a “friend” just so I didn’t hurt their digital feelings.

My biggest gripe is that Facebook is seriously addictive. In my last post I mentioned that I’d noticed a marked similarity between facebook and smoking, although at that time I had only had direct experience of the latter, but now that I can talk from experience I can safely say that I was right. If anything, compared to smoking, Facebook is more addictive and more detrimental to your mental health.

Just like cigarettes, you visit facebook even if you don’t really want to, just out of habit.

Just like cigarettes, you can make surprsing new friends when you visit facebook.

Just like cigarettes, it gives you instant social currency with people you would otherwise have nothing in common with.

Just like cigarettes, it makes you smell and turns your teeth yellow. OK, that last one is only true if you spend a bit too long on Facebook, but you get the point.

OK, if you’ve joined the realms of “the book” (as it was coolly described to me today” then you’ll probably know all this already. What I need to do is get to grips with “why?”. What is it about Facebook that has made it such a success where previous iterations of this concept (Friendster etc) failed to hit the mainstream in such dramatic fashion?

I’ve got some ideas, but I think I need to investigate more, so I’ll leave that for my next posting.

Till then have fun.

D.

Finally a foray into blogging!!

Hello all, and by all, I mean the two or three friends that I have forcibly pushed in this direction to read this. Thankyou so much for stopping by.

This particular posting is going to be pretty short; I’d like to say sweet as well, but feel that may be a little presumptious of me. Anyway, all I’m going to do here today is explain my reasons for doing this blog in the first place.

My main reason is that I don’t feel that I can comment on the exploding media world(in which I work as a media planner,) unless in some way at least I am part of it, and right now I feel actually quite detached (as a consumer) from the way media is going.

Having once felt like I was close to the leading edge of the digital “revolution” (we got internet at home in 1995 which was pretty early) I feel like things really have overtaken me and although I’m a big fan of the internet, I’m actually very stuck in my online habits.

Yesterday my colleague sitting opposite was involved in a Q&A session with people working for him. This Q&A session was held on Second Life!! I realised at this point that whilst obviously I knew all about Second Life, I had no first hand experience of it whatsoever – How could I comment on these trends if I wasn’t experiencing them.

It’s not just Second Life. I don’t have a profile on MySpace, Bebo, Facebook or any of those community sites which appear to have replaced smoking in terms of both addictiveness and the ability to expand your social network. The furthest I got on digital networking was Friends Reunited.

Anyway, this blog is my first step in rectifying this situation. I’ve been in countless meetings quoting the “POWER OF THE BLOG” and yet have barely ever read any blogs and have never written one.

So here is my blog. It is going to be an account of me endeavouring to drag myself into the 21st century of media and the weird and wonderful things I encounter on the way. It will probably be of interest only to my nearest and dearest, and to them only because they want to keep me happy, but as much as anything it is an exercise in discovery – if nothing else it might give me a chuckle when I look back at it in a few years.

I hope to write something here about once a week, probably on Monday when I’m procrastinating on my work, so if you haven’t gouged out your own eyeballs yet and are of a particularly masochistic tendency then please do come back for updates.

Bye for now

Dan