Shea was rapidly catching up to me so I've spent the last couple hours ping-ponging from person to person's friend lists on Facebook madly adding people I know (and knew and wish I knew).
Here are some random thoughts from the process…
– In “The Tipping Point“, Malcolm Gladwell uses the term “Connector” to define one of three types of people who create situations where ideas/products/whatever “tip”. Finding someone who has this characteristic (Kitty Lewis from Brick Books with her nearly 400 friends after only a few months on Facebook is a good example) is a great way to lead to lots of others you will know. (In all modesty, I'd probably put myself in this category too. I'm sitting at over 400 friends but probably 1/4 are people I've never met but that I connected with via my Saskatchewan Mafia group on the site. Actually anybody who has over say, 200 friends on Facebook – that they do know in real life – is probably a good bet to be a connector.)
– that also makes me think what the optimal number of friends to have on Facebook? I'd suspect it's close to the figure cited as the ideal number of people to have in a community which was presented in a similar book to Gladwell's called “The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki. That number was somewhere around 150 and after that, the claim was that you were stretched too thin trying to maintain and track all of the various relationships that your group/community will fall apart.
– If I were to analyze it, I'd say I have three main “circles” of friends – “librarians/library students”, writers/publishers” and “high school/college/hometown” mixed with assorted others who I know in other ways.
– the number of friends I have is partly a reflection of my personality (I “collected” friends long before Facebook existed simply because I'm interested in pretty much everyone I meet.) and partly because I've lived for significant lengths of time in three different provinces, often in positions where I was in a spot that was a sort of “hub” in some ways (especially at the Writers Guild of Alberta where my office was one of – but definitely not the only – main hubs for activity relating to all kinds of literary events in the Southern half of the province.)
– I'm debating doing a longer post on “The Most Famous Person on Facebook” but let me just say that once you start seeing who (and I say this with all due respect) mid-level Canadian authors link to that you start finding well-known authors (notice how I didn't identify which writers I class in each category in case they read this? ). Which can lead to authors who are also singers. Which can lead to rock stars. Which can lead to NHL hockey players. Which can lead to sitting Canadian MP's who used to be hockey players. Are all of these profiles legitimate? If I just did a search for “Wayne Gretzky” and a legit looking profile turned up, I'd be doubtful. But because of the chain of connections that brought me to some of these celebrities (and the fact that privacy settings were often ramped up quite high), I have very little reason to doubt that they're not legitimate.
– this leads me to other thoughts about the nature of celebrity in our culture. What does it say about celebrity (which is based in large part on someone being removed and remote from the plebians like you and me ) when, for example, the singer with a Canadian rock band that had a few hits in the early 1990's is directly connected to a woman I went to high school which means there is only one “step” between us? I have some problems with Facebook but how it may lead to a “flattening” of our societal hierarchies is one potential good thing.
– I wonder what it will be like for somebody like Pace (assuming Facebook is still around) where you grow up with a site like this always being a part of your life and by default, everybody you know being on it instead of the mixture that I get – a lot of surprises but definitely not everyone I've ever known or even everyone I would expect to be on the site.
Anyhow, just some random thoughts, way past my bedtime on a Saturday night/Sunday morning.