Sunday, December 26, 2010

Facebook, nearly two years after I joined it

No, I normally don't post to my Empoprise-BI business blog on Sundays. But today, December 26, I have found myself thinking about Facebook a lot. Therefore, I figured that this was an opportune time to revisit the decision that I made nearly two years ago to join Facebook, and to see what I had learned since I made that decision.

I used one of my Ontario Emperor blog posts to write about my decision to join Facebook. That post was written on February 26, 2009. Shortly after that, I pretty much quit blogging under the Ontario Emperor pseudonym - not just because of my decision to join Facebook, but that decision, coupled with some other decisions that I made, indicated that the pseudonym had pretty much become pointless. The pseudonym is primarily only used for certain musical applications.

What I didn't say at the time of my February 26, 2009 post (possibly because I hadn't learned it yet) was that my high school friend was urging me to join Facebook because that was the avenue that she and others were using to organize a high school reunion. In the end I was unable to go, but I did get in touch with a number of high school classmates...and college classmates...and elementary school classmates. (The mother of one of my elementary school classmates is ill right now; please keep her in your thoughts/prayers.)

That was probably the first thing that I realized about Facebook; people from all walks of life are on it. This is something that I certainly wasn't finding on FriendFeed, since most people hadn't heard of FriendFeed (this was back when FriendFeed was still an independent entity), and even the larger services such as MySpace and Twitter, which certainly containing slices of my friends, didn't have a wide variety of my friends on it.

Speaking of FriendFeed, I started a thread (as Ontario Emperor) that asked other FriendFeed users what they thought about Facebook. (Again, this was written back when FriendFeed was an independent entity.) At the time, Jared B. Luther offered his take on Facebook:

I reluctantly "re-joined" after a 14 month hiatus. It has been great. You can ignore the games and apps and make it as serious or goofy as you want. I have gotten in touch with friends and relatives I haven't seen in over 20 years. I segregate Facebook for "real life" friends only. Twitter/Friendfeed is for everyone else.

At the time I didn't know what Jared was talking about regarding games, apps, or segregating. I subsequently learned. By July, this blog included a post regarding an outage of the Farm Town application. By November, I was writing about Starfleet Commander - and you could read the same post as a note on the Empoprise-BI fan page.

Yes, I have fan pages for some of my Empoprises blogs on Facebook. But why would I need those, since I already had similar functionality on FriendFeed? Well, as I've already implied a couple of times in this post, FriendFeed ceased to be an independent entity in August 2009. While the service wasn't immediately shut down and survives (mostly) to this day, I knew that I had to make alternative plans in case FriendFeed were to start pining for the fjords one day.

However, I certainly continued to use FriendFeed, and in fact pumped all of my FriendFeed activity into Facebook. This resulted in some confusion from some of my Facebook friends, and subsequently resulted in a decision on my part to silo my FriendFeed activity from my Facebook activity.

Now that I've gotten neck-deep into this post, it's interesting to note that I'm talking about FriendFeed about as much as I'm talking about Facebook itself. Obviously, this is not the case for 99.9% of Facebook's users.

Back to my February 2009 post. Here's how I initially thought I was going to use Facebook:

[M]y initial thought is that I will use it in conjunction with my LinkedIn and Plaxo accounts (and, to a limited extent, with my MySpace account). I won't be following over a thousand people like I do in Twitter or FriendFeed, but the Facebook account may not just consist of people that I've physically met either.

In a sense, I was right. A number of my co-workers are on Facebook, and I like to share a number of industry-related items with them. (If you're a friend on Facebook and haven't seen these items, it's because I only share them with people on the "MorphoTrak" Facebook list, since most of the rest of my Facebook friends don't care about NAS and NIST and WSQ.) As for strict integration with LinkedIn and Plaxo, not really - especially since I rarely use Plaxo these days (although I haven't deleted my account).

As for friends - as of today, I have 338 friends on Facebook, and I'd guess that I've never met half of them in real life. For me, that's a pretty good ratio, since I've probably met less than 5% of my Twitter friends in real life.

Oh, and regarding the discussion of poking at the end of my Feburary 2009 post - I've probably been poked a few times over the last 1 1/2+ years, but have not poked anyone on Facebook myself.
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