Monthly Archives: August 2003

Friendster growth

While i was away, someone pointed me to a paper called Warhol Worms: The Potential for Very Fast Internet Plagues. The paper documents how a worm gets distributed through the Internet and how its exponential growth caps out at around 1,000,000 people. I was encouraged to read this because one question that’s been on my mind is how long Friendster growth will continue and whether or not it will just cap out. For a while, it was growing at 10% per week, but this hasn’t been maintained all summer.

While i don’t have the data about signup dates, i did trapse back and look at join dates for a variety of numbers, just to get a sense of when certain numbers were hit. Unfortunately, this isn’t as valuable as the actual dates, but it’s interesting none-the-less:

User 101 (Jonathan) signed on in April 2002.
User 175 signed on in May 2002.
User 250 signed on in June 2002.
User 375 signed on in July 2002.
User 500 signed on in August 2002.
User 1000 signed on in September 2002.
User 1250 signed on in October 2002.
User 1500 signed on in November 2002.
User 2500 signed on in December 2002.
User 5000 signed on in January 2003.
User 10,000 signed on in February 2003.
User 25,000 signed on in February 2003.
User 50,000 signed on in March 2003.
User 100,000 signed on in April 2003.
User 250,000 signed on in May 2003.
User 500,000 signed on in June 2003.
User 750,000 signed on in June 2003.
User 1,000,000 signed on in July 2003.
User 1,250,000 signed on in July 2003.
User 1,500,000 signed on in August 2003.
User 1,750,000 signed on in August 2003.

[As of August 31, there are 1,853,799 User accounts]

Needless to say, Friendster is well beyond the 1M marker, but it’s hard to tell how much beyond. While there are close to 2M accounts, i have no sense of how many of them are fake or invalid. Plus, i keep running into people who have multiple accounts (same information, same name, all “real”). I can’t tell if this is because they forgot their login or because they want to separate different friend groups.

Also, so many of the account seem to be inactive. I still hypothesize that people have an interest span of around 2 months from when the last group of friends joined. ::sigh:: Of course, without the data, it’s hard to test my hypotheses.

Urban Singles @ Commonwealth Club

Bay Area folks: The Commonwealth Club (San Francisco) is hosting a forum on Urban Singles on September 4th. Speakers include:

RABBI YAACOV DEYO, Founder, SpeedDating
TRISH MCDERMOTT, Vice President,
JONATHAN ABRAMS, Founder, Friendster
JEFF TITTERTON, Vice President, PlanetOut Partners

Also, for those who are curious, i suspect that the Fakester Revolution folks will be there protesting.

lessons in the desert

Going to the desert is always an extremely intense experience for me. There is nothing like spending a week in an extremely hostile environment to shake everything up. So, needless to say, the desert taught me a few lessons. I’m now back and processing.

To back up… Burning Man is an annual festival held in Black Rock City (Nevada). 30,000+ people trek to the desert to build a community, construct large art projects and party. By Saturday, hedonism is at an all time high, in preparation for burning the man, a large glowing structure at the center of the city. On Sunday, repentence is had as people burn away the year’s sorrows at the mausoleum (called the Temple of Honor this year).

I am in awe with the creation of the city and the community. In theory, there is a balance between construction and destruction, as everything created is burnt or torn down… leave no trace. Unfortunately, a rush of people come towards the end of the week to party and help destroy. It feels so odd since these people are not the same as those who help create. As a result, i always feel myself going from awe to irritation.

I remember standing at the Burn last year listening as folks on my left yelled slurs at the girls in their drunken frenzy while those on my right repeated their vows of love over and over again in their ecstasy-driven cuddle puddle.

This year, i went at the absolute beginning of the week, in part for personal reasons and in part to watch the community evolve from an anthropological perspective. I vowed to leave when i had enough, when i was losing track of the beauty of it all. And thus, i came home early, on the day of the Burn.

[more personal reflections inside]

Continue reading

i’m back…

I’m back from the desert. It was a completely intense experience, as always, and i’m still processing. Bits of what i learned will slowly leak out here and updates will begin again.

The Value of Fakesters

[temporary vacation pause as i haven’t left town yet.]

The more i talk with people, the more i feel as though Fakesters provide a very valuable role in the spread and value of Friendster. Let me explain.

How many users who surf Craigslist read Missed Connections or Best of Craigslist? Rarely do these have value other than humor, yet humor brings people back to the site for pleasure and fun.

Surfing Friendster for Fakesters is like treasure hunting… people love running across these icons of creativity. It motivates them to surf around the network, far more so than simply searching for a date. Dates happen accidentally this way. This is probably a preferable functionality anyhow, as desperate searching is rarely as meaningful as accidental connection.

When people are seriously looking for people, they don’t want Fakesters to be connectors (i.e. searching in the gallery), but when they come across them via surfing, they click on them only if they value them. If not, they’re ignored. Rarely do i run into someone who wants Fakesters obliterated; often, they just want them to not impact their network numbers or their Gallery.

Fakesters motivate people to be more creative with their Profiles. Fakesters remind users that Profiles are only an articulated performance of self and not to be taken seriously, even in the cases of Realsters. Fakesters remind users that an articulated network is not the same as one’s real social network and thus doesn’t have the same level of trust and accountability as one’s “real friends.”

Although Clay argues that is inherently stupid, i personally love that folks are tracking the issue. The tension between the Fakesters and Jonathan is growing and i don’t think that Jonathan realizes the impact of his decisions. Fakester Revolution may represent the extreme and opinionated minority of Fakester appreciators, but these voices are definitely being heard by the press and impacting the average user, who thinks that Jonathan’s censorship is just pushing things a bit too far.

Somehow, i’m guessing that Friendster will not be nearly as novel and interesting when the creativity is all obliterated. We’ll see when i return in September…

[back to genuine vacation. just out of curiosity, i wonder if Friendster’s traffic will be impacted by the rush to the desert.]

a genuine break

I’m about to embark on my first no-email vacation in 5 years. I will not be blogging, emailing, phoning or otherwise staying connected with anything other than the playa. Of course, that’s always a fascinating opportunity to watch as urban tribes come together in reality, build a community and tear it down. Somehow, i’m sure i’m going to learn more about social networks watching folks in the desert than i would sitting here behind my screen.

Anyhow, have a fantastic end of August and i’ll see you in September!

Note: when i return, i will be back in school officially. So, if you have the urge to email me, realize that i’m not prepared for my email overload and will probably take at least a month to make up for 2 weeks away.

a real break…

I’m about to embark on my first no-email vacation in 5 years. I will not be blogging, emailing, phoning or otherwise staying connected with anything other than the playa. I love you all and i’ll see you in September!

When i return, i will be back in school officially. So, if you have the urge to email me, realize that i’m not prepared for my email overload and will probably take a month to make up for 2 weeks away.