I'm addicted to social networking.
and i have been for the past 6-8 years.
It all started with Ryze.
Way back in the summer of 2001, just before i joined PayPal to start their developer program and wait out the dot-com crash, i became a member of one of the earliest social networking sites called Ryze, founded by Adrian Scott. In just a few weeks, i was hooked. I pimped out my profile page, i connected with all of my geeky friends, i competed with other folks like Sean Ness and Marc Canter to see who could acquire the most friends, i listed all my otaku hobbies & interests (ultimate frisbee, cartoons & animation, startups & economics), and i eagerly checked in every day... sometimes every hour!... to see if i got any new messages, and to see the new people who had joined. I even started a group discussion board called 500 Citizens, that at one point was the largest / most active group on the site. Does this sound familiar? If so, then you're probably a fellow SNS addict like me. Keep coming back.
Over the next five years, i became first infatuated, engrossed,
then fatigued with each new social networking site & service that
came out -- after Ryze came LinkedIn (still a regular), Tribe (lots of Burning Man fans), and Friendster
(fun, but i was already married); each of which i spent time using,
abusing, then disabusing myself of. After Friendster got so popular
nobody went there anymore, Google rolled out Orkut, which was cool since it had self-service groups & discussion boards you could setup in seconds (did i mention i was an eGroups/YahooGroups fan since 1999?). Not long after that i discovered Flickr (pictures! tags! tag-surfing!) and fell in love with digital cameras. Then I bumped into MySpace (how many tabs can you have?!?), and realized there were profile pages that scared even me. Along with LinkedIn, both Yelp (find good Ethiopian restaurants) and YouTube
(catchup on Daily Show & Adult Swim) were started by fellow PayPal
Mafia paisans, so of course i had to check them out. And for awhile
Yahoo had an eye for new SNS talent; after Flickr they grabbed Upcoming.org (what were my friends doing next week?), then MyBlogLog (who reads my blog, and what else do they read?), and Bix (who needs American Idol? gimme a webcam and a mike). And Ev launched Twitter (what are you doing?) so that i could tell everyone i just had a tasty ham sandwich. And then Spock collected it all together in one big tag farm for me... how convenient :)
Along the way of this mad hatter SNS journey down the rabbit hole, i picked up an account in 2005 for this college networking site that seemed rather interesting. Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman had put money into it, and from my PayPal daysi knew those were two guys with the Midas touch to keep your eyes on. But when i first started using the service, i found out i was ~15 years older than any other homie at my alma mater, THE Johns Hopkins University. And while i admired the design & structure, i just didn't quite connect with all the college kids on Facebook. Then in summer 2006 they rolled out something called News Feed which got some media attention, but altho i noticed i didn't think much about it at the time. So i poked around a bit, but eventually went back to LinkedIn & Flickr & YouTube for my regular fix.
But then something really interesting happened.
In February of this year i was invited to a modest reception for Facebook employees, Stanford alumni, & a few Silicon Valley geeks. I just happened to bring along my camera, and they just happened to roll out some slides with a few previously unreported growth stats. Click. Growth stats which were mind-boggling. Click. Growth outside the traditional Facebook college demographic. Click. And then they just happened to mention in a few months they were planning to roll out a Platform for developers to build Apps on, which is a subject i happen to know a few things about from my days running the PayPal Developer Network.
- And then i realized: Platform + Apps... cool. Click.
- And then i remembered: Feed... oh yeah. Click.
- And then a thousands apps exploded in a thousand directions at once: KABOOM.
now i can't stop thinking about Facebook, the Social Graph, Platform, Apps, & the Feed... 24x7x365.
Call me a Facebook Fanboy?
Not even close... i'm a Facebookaholic.