Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Face Book

I took a class at the Loft Literary Center, and one of the members in the class decided to organize a way for us to stay in touch. This required that I join Face Book, which I did, and the damn program is now aggressively finding friends for me -- all SF people.

Tell me how this works. I filled in no information except my name and location. How did Face Book know I was interested in science fiction? How did it pick Patrick Neilsen Hayden as a possible friend for me?

I am not sure what the point of Face Book is. It seems to be like a cocktail party, where you circulate and spend two minutes chatting with each person. Terrible weather we've been having. How about them Vikes?

Since the people involved are all SF people, I think of them as colleagues and members of the same community, a community I feel strong loyalty for. But the word friend makes me uneasy. I checked a dictionary. Friend comes from a Germanic root that means love, and the English word used to mean friend, relative, lover, a person who is loved. A powerful word. The idea that a program is picking my friends is a bit weird.


Stephanie Zvan said...

Eleanor, Facebook uses social links to recommend new friends. So these people should be friends of your friends or people who belong to the same groups or networks your friends belong to.

Alternately, these may be fans. Facebook does have a place for people to list their favorite books. You may be on their lists. :)

Nee S. said...

Interestingly, Germans tend to think that Americans are shallow because they still use "friend" in the "very close" sense, while we can use "friend" to mean someone you act friendly to, like at work or a cocktail party. Both my husband and I have heard this complaint a few times from acquaintances over here.

Bill Henry said...

"It seems to be like a cocktail party"—this is right on the money, Eleanor. As Stephanie says, Facebook and similar sites are social and professional networking services.

Your "friends" on Facebook are what a professional-networking site like LinkedIn more accurately calls "connections."

For instance, through the Mid-Ohio-Con MySpace page, I have something like 1,096 "friends." And yikes! in three weeks I'll be meeting them all up close and personal—plus about 4,000 more. That's a whole lot of cocktails and handshaking, I'm telling ya.

It occurs to me that something like goodreads might be more up your alley, Eleanor.