A few weeks ago Liz invited me to join Friendster, which is a social networking site. You enter your profile, say whether you want to make friends, find business partners, date or all of the above, and then you hook up with your friends. I thought it was way cool at first – wow, I’m connected to a deity like Megnut through only two degrees of separation through two different channels! Ooh-ah! Then, after convincing lots of friends to join (thanks, guys) I was wondering what to do next. OK, so now I has a map of some of my friends and some of their friends – now what? Frank added to my scepticism, pointing out that Friendster claims complete ownership of anything you put on their site – hm, bit dodgy that, though they probably won’t do anything bad with it. Then I saw Dave Weinberger was sceptical too:

I don’t like it when a site assumes that what’s implicit can be made explicit without loss.

Mm. That led to a long post from Michael Connor O’Clarke: How to Lose Friendsters and Influence People.

I think I’m getting all the Friend mojo I want through just being online, thanks very much – don’t need no aspartame-flavoured Friendster sweetness to help me along here. Friendster aims to solve a problem I just don’t have.

This is true, at least assuming all interesting people you could meet online have blogs. Cos it’s bloggers I meet online.

But then today I found lots of Friendster mail in my inbox. Torill had added a testimony, Anne asked to be my friend (of course I said yes!) and when I clicked the “gallery” I discovered there are suddenly 13 Friendsters with photos in Norway! And piles of Swedes! There’s still noone I don’t already know in Bergen, but that, I suppose, is where the potential of such systems is. I already know how to find people with similar interests to me online. But I might be overlooking someone who’s right next door to me.

Actually, as Adam Greenfield writes, Friendster’s “killer ap” is “The swelling joy that fills my heart every time I look at the pictures of these, my good friends. (Awwwwwww…)”. (I found this via a digression in a post by Liz at the new Corante social software blog) I like seeing that photo of Lisbeth, and Friendster telling me “Lisbeth is your friend.” (I stole that line from Lisbeth herself actually).

26 thoughts on “wanna be my friendster?

  1. christian

    So what are the conclusion? Still positive about friendster? Can I be your friend?

  2. Liz

    I’m really torn on Friendster (as I noted in my many-to-many post).

    Adam does nail it with the impact of the gallery of friends. And I’m going to have to figure out how to respond to David, because just as there are things lost in making the implicit explicit, so there are things lost in leaving them implicit only.

    David’s e-mail address (I’m not giving anything away, it’s on his site) is “self at evident dot com”, which is interesting in and of itself. He has a tendency (introvert-related? maybe, as my friend elouise shares this) to assume that implicit things are clear and evident to everyone. But sometimes there’s real value in saying publicly “Jill is my friend.”

  3. Michael O'Connor Clarke

    I’m greatly encouraged to hear of your positive experiences with Friendster. It didn’t really gel for me, but I’m glad others are finding value in the service.

    Despite my withdrawal from Friendster, I think there there’s something really quite interesting and important going on at the heart of services like this. Just not sure what that something is yet…

    You should definitely ping David too – I think his ideas on making the implicit explicit in this kind of sign-up service are worth considering: the implications for the Digital ID crowd are considerable.

    His email address, btw, relates to his “day job” as head of Evident Marketing, and is also characteristically David – but you probably knew that already.

    I’m greatly enjoying your blog, BTW. I’m reminded of Italo Calvino, for some reason I’m unable to discern right now. I’ll have to figure that one out…

  4. Jill

    Michael, if I remind anyone of Calvino, well, I’m thrilled 🙂 Not quite sure how it happened, but I’ll lap it up!

    And Friendster – well, I’m ambivalent, you know. There’s something cool about it and something rather disturbing about it too – there’s enough of that intriguing something to make me want to continue exploring it.

    Liz, perhaps there IS an introvert/extrovert thing happening here. And perhaps part of the reason I’m intrigued by Friendster is that I’m at a stage in my life where I appreciate clarity in my relationships 😉

    Hm. Will need to think some more about this.

  5. Norman

    Ersatz is tremendous when the real thing is unavailable but?

  6. jon

    Hmm, I had a look at the site but I am a bit dubious about this one. I get enough weird-mail.

  7. Liz

    Norman, that’s a pretty judgmental statement, made without knowledge of the people or relationships.

    Of the 23+ “friends” I have in Friendster, at least 1/3 are real-world colleagues and friends whose relationship with me predated the service. The rest are a mix of “blogfriends”, “virtual colleagues,” and the like. They don’t replace each other, but they both serve valuable functions in my life. Neither is “ersatz.”

    On the other hand, I’ve had many real-world “friends” whom I’d characterize as “ersatz.”

  8. galiel

    “By posting Content to any public area of Friendster, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Friendster an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, and distribute such information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.”

    Translation: they can publish a book which includes your private conversations with your “Friendster” friends. They can “sublicense” your content (translation: their claim that they will never make money off people’s info is bullshit). They can use a conversation about a pregnancy to “license” information to a baby-food vendor, who will “accidentally” end up on your friends list and spam you.

    Why in the world would you “trust” these people not to do anything “bad” with your info? They are doing this to make money, not to save the world. It is not a non-profit or a charity, they say they intend to make money off of it. Use a little common sense, people. Their terms of service are not exactly written to protect you, the user.

  9. Alex

    I’ve been Friendster’d for some time now and find it boring and with a lousy UI. What’s amazing is, given how many blogger I know who use it, that neither I nor the software has figured out that we know each other. I mostly amuse myself drinking wine and writing ridiculously glowing testimonials for my friends. Depending on whether I have any vermouth yet, I may be coming your way soon…

  10. Jill

    Ah, Friendster testimonials are clearly an artform in themselves. I misunderstood the genre at first, and wrote sensible ones – there’s obviously no need for this, as you’ll see if you find one of those pages with dozens of one-liners from various friends.

    Galiel, yes, I agree that the user-licence is pretty appalling, but then again the UI isn’t very well set up for private conversations, anyway. There’s private messaging, but it’s less convenient than email. Unless, I suppose, you don’t know the people from beforehand.

  11. Liz

    I’ve not told Friendster anything that’s not in the public domain already, so I’m not too concerned about the license piece. Google knows more about me than Friendster, and scares me way more.

    The messaging interface is terrible, so I don’t use it if I can avoid it. I already know how to contact anyone I call a friend–I don’t need Friendster to do it. What they did for me is (a) show me faces, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, and (b) as Weinberger said, “make the implicit explicit”–which he sees as a bad thing, and I see as double-edged.

    Probably will write more on that last piece on M2M, real soon now. (Is it summer yet???)

  12. Abbey

    can you be my friend this is my first time to ask a friend sana Filipino ka para mas madali tayong magkaintindihan

  13. Giacomo

    Friendster is a stange site. First of all it does not work. Thait is amazing. A major famous website tht works slowly when it is work. It glues you to it for sure. It really has nothing. I think what it does is making you gredy. Greedy to have more friends, to have a gallery of a milion prople connected. It offers you the opportunity to feel like having a strange unreal social success. I have never bben able to have a decent correspondence with anyone at friendster. Still I connect to friendstr every now and then.
    By the way, if you want to join my mega network of a milion friends add me with vado_a_vela@yahoo.com

  14. Haizel

    what’s your name?

  15. Carlo

    I need a fiend. Yung tipong ka-chat! first tym kong sumali eh! pwede! this is my e-mail add. j_carlo_18@yahoo.com

  16. Carlo

    Hey! mzta kayo dyan! im carlo 16 yrs. old! kailangan ko ng ka-chat eh! j_carlo_18@yahoo.com

  17. elaine

    hi friends!!!!!!

  18. elaine

    hello evrybody!!!!i’m elaine and i’m 24 yrs old.i just want to have more friends e…

  19. denice

    just feel happy for joining and meeting new friends here!
    hope to have more friends and hope that you’ll be one of them!
    I’m happy for enjoying this experience on-line!

  20. denice

    hi it’s denice again!!!
    well…you can visit me at bluesha1n2000@yahoo.com

  21. Rahim


    Truly i like about friendster .. this give me the opportunity to be friends around the world..

    add me if no hesitate


  22. duchess

    friendster is great… lots of my friends are already addict with it…the sad thing with this was, we cannot open it…i dont know whats wrong but we all find it hard openning the site… any friendster peopleout there…help us here… we cannot update our account…. from: Phillipines

  23. gene

    u know what these sucks………………………………………

  24. fiona

    hi.gusto ko ng mga taong d galing sa asylum…email me at concubine_fi_09@yahoo.please email me….09273448879…salmat

  25. mymarkup.net

    Jag vet inte riktigt vad det ska vara bra fˆr, men jag gick med i Friendster h‰romdagen mest fˆr att…

  26. social networks tools

    FRinBL 5
    jill walker [28 April 2003] – a great academic discussion about Friendster “Ah, Friendster testimonials are clearly an artform in themselves. I misunderstood the genre at first, and wrote sensible ones – there’s obviously no need for this, as you’ll…

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