Category Archives: friendster

nielsen data on Friendster

In their latest report on Friendster, Nielsen/Netratings reports that average theFriendster user (who logs in) spends nearly 2 hours per day on Friendster, but that they are not yet up at competitive levels with other dating services regarding number of unique viewers.

Anyhow, fascinating data. I truly wonder what Friendster looked like over time. Is the average user spending more time on Friendster than in June? Is the percentage of people who return changing? Are earlier users not loggging in as much? So many interesting data questions…

why i study Friendster

Many folks have asked me why i study Friendster. Others ask how i’ve gotten here. Some wonder where i’m going.

Well, the The NYTimes asked those questions and wrote a profile of me. ::blush::

Of course, it’s not the full story, because it can’t be (only so much danah babble can fit into a 1500-word or whatever story). But even in the slice that is covered, i can hear myself and my advisors.

(Oh, and for those who are interested in some of my anecdotes, the article also includes interviews from two people whose Friendster stories inspired me.)

babbling for the nytimes

The NYTimes did a profile of me. ::blush:: It’s quite a riot because i can hear myself speaking and hear my advisors speaking. Plus, Michael interviewed two people who have some of my favorite Friendster stories and got them to tell their version of the story.

For those who don’t want to read the story: it’s basically a profile of me framed around my work with Friendster. Doing the interviews for this piece was fantastic! I got to tell the story of how i started studying technology, about my work with Andy/Judith/Peter (Genevieve/Henry…). I got to talk about why Friendster interested me (and why the business side is not my passion). Michael interviewed many of the people who have had an impact in what i’m doing (Andy, Peter, Genevieve) and those who are helping me think through the space now (Mark, Joi). To hear their reflections of their conversations with Michael is such a treasure.

::laugh:: I’m a giddy little girl right now.

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wired article on Friendster/Tribe

Today’s Wired article discussing Friendster vs. Tribe is quite interesting.

The basic critique against Friendster is:
1) They lack a sense of humor
2) They treat people as individuals rather than parts of communities or groups
3) Service is slow; there is no consumer service
4) They use heavy-handed politics and their dictator tendencies are not winning them fans

Yet, compared to Tribe, it has succeeded because it is so dating-focused and because:

“I like Friendster because it is more people-oriented,” she says. “Tribe is more geared towards selling used blenders and looking for a job. I don’t need to be reminded how many jobless people there are, or what awful things people will do for a buck…. What I want is the fantasy that we are all rock stars, that everyone’s ass looks great in leather, that everyone is sexy.”

Anyhow, read the article!

Friendster guide to interpreting photos

OK, this is fun. Buttafly has created a Friendster Guide to Interpreting Photos.

That fun piece is in addition to an opinion piece on why one must join Friendster (to find out about how diverse your friends’ friends are). Buttafly understandably misreads the Gallery to be one’s collection of friends’ friends, without realizing that the general population should be available there and that 4 degrees is meaningless. I was talking with someone yesterday about how Friendster has constructed a misreading of degrees by their decision to only present 4 degrees. They chose 4 mostly because of technical reasons, but 4 degrees has no value when you are looking at people. Yet, by noting it as “your network” and giving you a Gallery to look at your network, it’s easy to think it means something. Unfortunately, my “network” consists of everyone from the neo-nazis to the gangstas to the midwestern teens, none of which are actually in my actual network of associates.

Confessions of a bad Friendster

“Confessions of a bad Friendster” is a hysterical article from the LATimes.

Let me just admit it. I have not been a very good Friendster. And this has let some people down. I’m sorry. Frankly, I was caught off guard by how serious everyone is about it.

Key points from this perspective:
1) Friendster is a time sync
2) a fashionable profile is essential to maintain good standing with your friends
3) creating a fashionable profile is a torturous process
4) photos are ESSENTIAL
5) reciprocity and awareness are key to testimonials
6) never ignore the bulletin board messages or you’ll lose touch with friends
7) over time, you will identify with the question mark

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privacy & friendster

The Wall Street Journal published an article today entitled “Having Lots of Online Friends Could Mean Privacy Trouble.” The article articulates some of the institutional privacy concerns that some users do have and suggests that more users should have.

Now, i do believe in privacy concerns and i’m genuinely worried about institutional misuses of private data, but i’m not the average consumers. As we all know, consumers will happily sell their privacy. They don’t understand the implications of this. And thus, there’s no incentive for corporations to not try to collect it and make money off of it. This is where the government should step in. But since the government is controlled by corporations….

Anyhow, i won’t follow that rant.

The big thing to realize is that most consumers are far more concerned with local privacy, or intimacy concerns. They’re worried about their friends taking their information out of context, about their mom seeing something intended for their friends, of a future boss seeing a drunken picture. Consumers are far more concerned with those who have limited local authority over them than institutional authority. [Yes, here’s an opportunity for a study…]

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is Friendster a dud?

OK, this is the *best* biline ever:

“Friendster’s inspiration — online matchmaking via friends of friends — has been a runaway success. Human nature may be the only bug.”

So, i admit… i like this article. Finally, someone in the press is teasing apart the fundamental structural problems of Friendster (not just the Fakester problem or the Jonathan Abrams sucks problem or being all positive). In particular, they take aim at two of my favorite issues:

1) The assumption that your friends are transitive links for dating. [There is no doubt that people are often more compatible with people that are friends of friends. But the inverse logic is not always true. Just because they are a friend of a friend doesn’t mean you have any interest in dating them.] They bring up the issues with friends being counterproductive because they don’t always know what’s best… i.e. your friends shouldn’t try to help by setting up dates – this is always a disaster (this is age old wisdom that seems to have been forgotten in Friendster).

2) Friendster assumes equality. A friend is a friend is a friend, right? Ha! Particularly when there’s an issue of “public face.”

Is this a sign of more negative press to come? Is the honeymoon with Friendster over? (It certainly is for many of the users i’ve been tracking…)

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