Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Social Networking or "You better Facebook me!"

Social Networking websites are all the rage in this Web 2.0 world of ours. For those of you who aren't familiar with the "Web 2.0" moniker, it's a means of describing the new phenomenon emerging on the web of social networking sites (think Facebook and for the emo kid in all of us: Myspace) as well as folksonomies (the sharing of content between internet users i.e. photos, videos and such).

Web 2.0 goes even deeper than the 13 year old on Myspace posting Youtube videos, it's the whole idea of a 2 way communication between the user and the product. Webpages have now gone from static read only files to dynamic interactive platforms. For the most part, it's user driven which is both a blessing and a curse for profit seeking companies.

The new iPod touch commercial is Web 2.0 at its finest where companies have used uploaded content for their gain. The ad, creating a stir around the blogging communities and making every senior design & video editors both jealous and nervous of an 18 year old in the UK, was picked up by Apple and is now featured in major network Television spots. It was originally created as piece of fan appreciation but now is one more marketing tool for Steve Jobs.

As a photographer, I find its costs and benefits as well. Senior portraits that I've shot and posted in a web gallery for the customers to view and select for print are now showing up as Facebook profile pictures with a simple right click and "save as." I could go either way with this.

Sure, it's a copyright infringement as both myself and the customer had agreed that my pricing pays for 5 images on a CD of their choice, not the use of gallery images. However, as that photo is posted as a profile pictures, it now becomes free advertising where the said customer's friends now see the product, which may cause them to seek out my services.


In a more personal note on my own use of Facebook, I'm reminded of a funny story that happened recently to me.

Within the past few months, Facebook has changed its platform from the static "info" to the addition of third party "applications" which allow users to customize their own facebook pages with anything from horoscopes, ninja wars to major league sports team affiliations. In my opinion, it was for the worst. Facebook went from the tried and true format of creating a social network where people could stay connected with classmates in a simple, easily navigable setting to a Myspace format of sparkling layouts of HTML which created a maze of junk on profiles.

And so the Facebook spam began.

Over the course of three months, I've received about 300 different requests to add this or that application or join this or that cause or support this or that baseball team. Over and over I was repeatedly asked to join the Red Sox nation. Now of course I'm one to route for the hometeam, but I'm not a diehard fan...and as such, I'm all set with not posting my support (or non support) digitally. So after the 15th time of "ignoring" the request (which I guess doesn't do anything), I finally made a statement that would come back to haunt me. I actually said that I'd hope the Red Sox would lose.

Fast forward an hour later.

Walking in Walmart for God knows what, I get a phone call on my cell phone. Some random person is asking if I still have Red Sox tickets for Game 7 of the ALCS. I told him he had the wrong number, to which he quickly apologized and hung up. No later than thirty seconds later, I get another phone call. Same thing. Now I begin to wonder whats going on. 65 phone calls later, I've found out that someone has taken the liberty of posting my information on craiglist, advertising that I had two tickets to the game and that I was willing to sell them @ face value.

Me: 0 Anonymous Facebook Culprit: 1

(note: I've now evened out the score as I was able to score a ticket to the first game of the World Series at Fenway to watch the Sox smoke the Rockies. Me: 10 Anonymous Facebook Culprit: 0. How's that for karma?)


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