Ten years ago we used to sit online for hours in all sorts of chat programs, like ICQ and MSN and Yahoo and AOL. It was easy to spend most of an evening chatting with a few people - waiting for responses, typing some marginally witty lines - throwing in the occasional LOL, ROTFLMAO, and ;-) . And not really saying much. Now we can communicate with cryptic text messages on a cell, typing cmb, bbf, and ctn. But there's a need for more social interaction than that - hence Facebook. I joined Facebook initially to connect with my younger friends involved in the world of hip-hop, and for things like gallery openings. It's working fine for that, but if you're not careful it can keep growing like a virus. We can have dozens, hundreds of "friends" - whatever that is, since social networking has redefined that term as a nebulous online relationship. Some are in fact real world physical friends, some are cyber links to a friend of a friend of a friend. And we can connect with all these friends in many online ways. Everytime I change my status all my new special friends can see Mike is tired, or happy, or watching TV, or glad his Sens are winning, or dealing with an annoying rash. And they've no way to turn just my status off. Or they can see that I've joined the basket weavers of eastern Ontario group, which is a good thing if they are basket weavers too. Or I can give them a vampire bite, or poke them, or write on their superwall, or give them a special gift for only $1, or ask what their favorite flower is, or slap them upside the head. OK - I made one of those up, but there seems to a never ending supply of applications people write to do stuff with Facebook.
This is called social networking, but the socializing is in mainly cyberspace. When do we get out and meet real people?
OK - I realize the irony of asking that as I sit here by myself, blogging and watching A Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. While I'm here I might as well add some interesting things I've noticed recently in the newspapers. Most online papers now have options on their articles to print them, or email, or share. Share to digg, or technorati, or twitter or del.icio.us. Or Facebook - it's so easy. The application automatically puts a link back to the article on your Facebook page, with an excerpt from the article and a place to add a brief intro. I've done a few, but neglected to also add the same info to my blog. Mostly because it's more work - have to log on, create a new post, cut and paste in the link and text, save and publish - sigh. On the plus side, I do tend to think a bit more of the topic, research a bit, add more links, so it is a more creative process. And hopefully entertains my few fans - I'm getting about 50 hits a day lately, down since before Christmas but still means there are a fw out there. Facebook doesn't have stats that I can see, so I'm not sure how many in Facebook-land follow those tid-bits I add - very few, I suspect.
So, here are some from Globeandmail.com :