July 15, 2007

Robert Scoble is clearly a man obsessed with Facebook. He’s mentioned it in posts every day from July 8th to the 15th and 27 times in this post. I can understand the excitement around the applications capability, the so-called “anti-MySpace”, that Facebook is creating, but I have mixed feelings about cracking the cover of Facebook due to my mixed experiences with social networking sites.

Probably the earliest one I joined was Ryze, founded in the dreary days of the dotbomb aftermath. I also joined Friendster in response to an invitation from my younger cousin, but I eventually removed my profile from both. I liked the open access of Ryze, but just became beseiged by invitations from people who seemed to have nothing better to do than build “friend” (don’t get me started on that word) networks all day, like there was some kind of prize for it.

I was skeptical of LinkedIn (my profile) at first, but while I can’t say it’s been a perfect or even necessarily very rewarding experience, it has enabled me to track down some old friends and stay current with others, maybe even learning of some interesting opportunities that didn’t necessarily go anywhere. Scoble praises Facebook pages for listing someone’s e-mail address and phone number, but LinkedIn will also provide an email link if you are connected to someone. One of my pet peeves about LinkedIn is that it defaults to listing concurrent roles chronologically rather than letting the user designate which should come first.

Says Scoble on LinkedIn vs. Facebook:

I dropped off LinkedIn a year ago cause the expected useage (sic) model there is to have your friends do things for you. Pass along resumes, give references, etc. Because of my popularity I simply got too many requests to do those things. There is no such expectation on Facebook.

When I talk with people about the two, also, they say that LinkedIn is for their professional lives and Facebook is for their personal stuff. [...] To tell you the truth, the reason Facebook is the better networking tool is BECAUSE it’s personal. I don’t really care that Danny is at McCann Erickson.

But he sure seems struck with the professional ties of 18 of his 2,400+ Facebook “friends” that he lists, alluding to their “who’s who” status in technology and listing the company affiliation of every one. Forgive my cynicism, but most people would probably be more interested in spending time with Marc Andreesen because of his unique experience in the evolution of the Web and current investment activities than because they may share his favorie drink. (Speaking of Andreesen, by the way, I remember when he said he didn’t blog because he had a real job. Priorities have clearly shifted.)

So,, I will probably drag myself onto Facebook in the name of better understanding this online phenomenon. How long will it be hot? Will it be nominally useful or even interesting like LinkedIn, a time suck like Ryze became, or the digital deliverance that Scoble proclaims? Maybe he’ll accept my link because of who I am but only blog about it because of where I am.

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