To the great consternation of territorial 20-year-olds trying to keep a favorite club cool, there has been a serious rush of old-dudes like me to Facebook in the last month.
Why? Here's the simple story. Facebook recently opened up their social networking platform to outside developers. This has led to increased functionality of the site, profiles and ways to interact with others. You now can use third-party tools to display your Flickr photos on your profile, promote an event, share a YouTube video, link to your blog, and so on.
The opening of the platform then led to massive amounts of publicity and chatter about both the individual apps and the holistic strategy (like this WSJ article from last Friday).
This, in turn, led naturally curious people like me to check the service out -- if anything, because I don't want to be left outside the party when the velvet ropes get draped in front of the door. Plus, I had already received an invite from the good folks at Technology Daily to join their group on Facebook and, more than theoretically, my job requires me to actually understand these kind of things.
Once I got on Facebook, I noticed that like my favorite homes and fashions, the pages were understated, calm and minimalistic. Think Mid-Century Modern with widgets.
I also easily found a good number of aged hipsters like me who may have lost their edge to the kids coming up from behind, but still know their way around the Internets. For example, there is a group called the "Net Natives of Old" that has 367 members -- with 30 people joining in the last few days or so. And, in a delicious (not del.icio.us) bit of synergy (and perhaps, one-day, integration), there is a group for those like me who also reside on that other site for aged-social networkers, Linked-In. This group has more than 2200 members.
But, now that I am on Facebook and have prettied up my profile page, I feel like I just got to a party that has the nervous energy of bunch of people waiting around trying to figure what's going to happen next (as they wonder to themselves whether this place looks like that old Friendster mansion). The vibe is: "sure, these party favors are pretty neat and my name tag is cool, but I'm the type that gets bored quickly so when are people going to start throwing each other in the swimming pool?"
(P.S. We'll also see what tech policy implications come from the mad rush of fast Facebook application developers. Already, it's clear that uploading music to your profile will be easy to do soon. There are also questions about tools that "slurp" content from user-upload sites like Flickr without proper permissions).