Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Power of Facebook

A couple weeks ago my friend Keith Raffel (author of the popular Silicon Valley murder myster Dot Dead) invited me to join Facebook. It's a fabulous social utility network that works at quite a high level.

There are 35 million members now, only about 300,000 of whom are 50 or older. 80% of the members are 25 or younger. The project started in 2004 when some Harvard undergrads decided to use the internet to do the old paper "facebook" of all the freshmen one better.

Did they ever !

Starting at Harvard, spreading to the Ivy League, Facebook soon became the doninant website at every campus in America. It then went to the high schools. In September of 2006 it opened up to us old fogeys (people over the age of 22 and not in college).

Ad revenues for this year alone are in excess of $50 million, and the founders reportedly turned down an offer to sell it for $1 billion.

Why the fuss ?

Here's a story that will illustrate the power of Facebook.

The idea is to expand your network of friends, by adding people you already know, and then adding people who have similar interests. You can find people with similar interests by checking the networks to which you belong.

Networks can be either Schools (colleges, high schools), Regions (Nashville, Boston), or Workplaces (IBM, Microsoft).

So I find that Michael Lemonick is a fellow Harvard grad who is also a Science writer (one of my interests). I ask to add Michael, whom I have never met, as a friend, and he accepts.

Then I find John Pomfret, who was at Stanford when I was a graduate student there. We've never met. But John is a writer, and the editor of the Outlook Section of the Washington Post. He recently wrote his first book, Chinese Lessons. This interests me, of course. I ask to add John as a friend, and he accepts.

Yesterday, Michael Lemonick posts a status message on his profile, saying that he will be on the Diane Rehm Radio Program today. This interests me, so I check out Diane's website to see if there is a station here that carries her program.

Here's what I find.

John Pomfret was a guest on her show yesterday !

He was there to talk about his book, Chinese Lessons.

Now both John and Michael are in a very exclusive club.

Facebook friends of Michael Patrick Leahy, who've never met me, who've never met each other, who've both been guests on the Diane Rehm show this week.

Six degrees of separation ?

Facebook makes it more like two !

No comments: