"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Technology
September 28, 2007

FaceBooking In The Free World

In the next couple of weeks I’ll get around to writing some extended thoughts on the current trends in social networking and, in particular, the Facebook phenomena. In the meantime, it is fascinating that within 24 hours of each other, two bloggers that I highly respect have come out with statements as to why they […]

In the next couple of weeks I’ll get around to writing some extended thoughts on the current trends in social networking and, in particular, the Facebook phenomena. In the meantime, it is fascinating that within 24 hours of each other, two bloggers that I highly respect have come out with statements as to why they will not be joining Facebook.

So far, Facebook seems significantly more useful than either MySpace (dysfunctional and anonymous) or LinkedIn (rigid and cold). Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with a small number of past friends and acquaintances, which us, at least to some extent, welcome. But, the practical benefits do seem limited (although for some people it may be a better mode of communication than blogging).

But, like any Web 2.0 idea, Facebook can be a time-sponge – something that is worth considering before getting involved. One can get Facebook’d with a minimum of effort and maintenance. In fact, one of the main benefits of Facebook might be that initial bursts of interest from new members bootstrap and reinforce the “networking.”

For me, the biggest and most unwelcome challenge presented by Facebook is re-opening closed relational loops. Sometimes in life (or at least in my life) it has been important to close the door on some experiences and institutions. In the normal course of life it is unusual to have to revisit those decisions; scars heal with time. But in the realm of Web 2.0 those decisions can be stirred and agitated relentlessly.

Perhaps the most important question about networking sites like Facebook might not be the practical question of the time they soak up, or the abstract issue of “community.” It might well be the psychological question of how they interrupt the way we deal with life’s experiences and disappointments.

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