Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yes, hell has frozen over...I've joined Facebook

(This picture is from Flickr user billums and is used under this license)

Back on October 9, 2007 I blogged the following:

So I'm thinking that I may have to set up a Facebook account at some point if I want to be only slightly non-trendy. I know I'm supposed to be the "I am not trendy" guy, but my MySpace account is so non-trendy that it's like leeches.

Of course, trendiness is not the sole reason to join Facebook. It's potentially an excellent way to contact people you know.

But, over the years, I've been reluctant to join Facebook for a couple of reasons:

  • Their view on pseudononymous accounts. Basically, they prefer that you use your given name on Facebook, even if you market yourself under another identity. Until recently most of my online interactions were under the Ontario Emperor name, and I didn't want to jettison my brand just because Facebook wanted me to do so. If you really want to explore my thoughts on this in detail, check out my link-heavy song parody that I wrote on January 9, 2008.

  • The horror stories about Facebook policies. There are numerous examples of these, the whole thingie about the terms of service being the latest example.
Lately, my attitude has been changing on both the counts. I have started several projects (such as Empoprises) that use my real name, so I am establishing an online presence under that "brand" for better or worse. And, while Facebook may have onerous terms of service, so does everyone else.

Last night I spent some time on LinkedIn, and ended up sending connection requests to two people that I knew from high school. This in itself was unusual, because I have only maintained regular contact with one person from my high school. Not because I hated the school or anything like that, but because I left town in 1979 and have rarely been back since, so I've naturally lost touch with a lot of folks. So anyways, I sent the two connection requests, and got the following response from the second person when my request was accepted:

John, get on facebook

Well, when that person talks, I listen. (I'd tell you the name of the person who sent this message, but if I did that, I'd be violating that person's privacy, wouldn't I?)

So I signed up for Facebook and was immediately befriended by Jan McInnis, as well as by a former co-worker who is very social media-savvy. I've sent out a few more friend requests and gotten two responses, but have not yet heard from the classmate who urged me to join Facebook in the first place.

So how will I use Facebook? I've read the suggestions in this FriendFeed thread that I started, and my 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 essence, I've provided the answer to my own question:

Has Facebook become one of the services that you must join, whether you like it or not?

Perhaps. Theoretically you could use one service to do everything that you want to do, but there are going to be people who are on Facebook and not on LinkedIn, or vice versa. (This is one of the reasons that I maintain my MySpace account; certain people are only reachable there.)

The only disturbing part of this is that the number of "must-use" services could potentially mushroom out of control. Think about it; in addition to various Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo properties, I have a presence on a ton of services, including:

Inside the IE
Velvet Rope

And that's probably just one third of the services to which I have memberships. There are some memberships that I have for corporate reasons, and there are some memberships that I just plain am not going to talk about (for a variety of reasons).

Frankly, some of the services listed above haven't been visited by me in months, if not years. Some I use every day. But what happens if a situation arises where I have to use five of these services every day? Ten? Twenty?

But I'm not concerned about that now. The immediate concern in my mind is this - what the heck is a poke, and what is the etiquette to follow if I get one? Belgrade and Beyond has expressed some thoughts:

How many times you have been poked by a friend, colleague, and affiliate? And what was your reaction? I had to write few lines on this as I am recently (massively) poked on Facebook. It was regular, surprisingly massively poking (not superpoking), not explicitly poked, but – just regular poke with two choices given: to poke back or remove poke....

In social networking terms, poke is contextual, and the context of poke is dependent upon the current level of familiarity between the ‘poker’ and the ‘pokee’. I remember last year I was invited to a group “Enough with poking, let’s just have sex “, and ignored request for the membership as I observed then poking as friendly virtual gesture with friends and colleagues , usually denoting verbal phrase: “Hey , what’s up?” , or “Look at me!”, saying” ”Hi”, to someone you already know well or screaming background form: “Hey, I’m here, online!,” or “Hey, I’m busy but just poked you to say I didn’t forget this and that or will be back soon’, followed usually by message/email. And there are pokes that are expressing more than friendly, primarily school behavior with connotation: “I poke you and now you have to poke me back”.
Poking for fun? “I won’t pull your hair/ponytail – but I’m poking you” - elements of (naïve) and light weighted flirtation. Therefore, poke can be flirting. Poke can be “I am shy but won’t to say hi”.

There are numerous possible meanings and interpretations behind the poke....

Oh boy. Learning a new culture and its terminology is complex.


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