Friday, December 28, 2007

There and Back Again

I was back in Bombay for the holidays which, don't you know, is always a smashing time to visit. Firstly, it's the coolest weather one can expect (clocking in at a marrow-curdling 85F), and secondly, it's the one time of the year when the snappy "Jingle Bells" ditty belted out by the building elevator (to signal that you've neglected to close collapsible grate), is actually appropriate.

Primary purpose of the trip of course was to hang out with the old hive over Christmas-break, but as a side-benefit, I got to celebrate a dear old friend's (Michael's) decision to feed for life out of the same bucket with the lovely Fiona.

While the wedding itself was awesome, the part I enjoyed most was chewing the fat with all the old school friends that I hadn't seen in almost a decade (sometimes more!). What's interesting about a large part of that crowd is that they have practically no internet presence to speak of, and I've had no easy way of getting in touch with them.

Except, apparantly, for Facebook.

While I've heard rumors that Orkut is all the rage in India, everywhere I met up with old cronies, I was presented with the question: "Are you on Facebook?" So there, suddenly, was the "one good reason" I'd been holding out on signing up with Facebook for. And I have to admit, it's pretty scary how many denizens of the old haunts I've been able to find on there.

I still think the site is not all it's cracked up to be, and most of the "applications" are an utter waste of time (send me another stupid "gift" and by Apollo's bronze behind, I'll un-friend you, I swear). But the potential for connection discovery is awesome. Somewhat similar to LinkedIn, but for the non-professional side of your network.

But that brings up the question of social context. I'm part of something like a social network on Flickr/Blogger because the sites are particularly suited towards sharing of ideas within the social context of the photographic community. It'd be hard for Facebook to be the generic social platform for every social context: photography, basket-weaving and physics? That's why I think 2008 will be the year that the industry realizes this and sprouts an eczema of social aggregator companies that claim to unify the experience across properties. This will be an interesting circus to watch...


Kavita said...

I agree with your observation, that FB can't be everything to everyone. But I don't think it markets itself as such. Its more like a virtual counterpart of your social life. Just like you'd have one cell phone to store all the people you'd want to speak with (or not!). And then you can belong to clubs (or groups) within this generic context, which are armchair versions of your interests (again, much like in real life ;) And if you're *really* interested in, say photography, you go to Seattle (or Flickr) for more targeted context. I'm quite thrilled to discover faces of people, from days of your, whose names I don't remember, but I'm kicked to see they're alive and thriving in some remote part of the world. Of course, if they ask me "Superpoke" them, I'll just go and do it personally, near their eyes....but that's just me!

Kavita said...

Oh! BTW, social aggregation isn't new. Ask Yahoo!