::Repost from old blog::
I wrote this for DC Indymedia:
The Napster of Friends. A portal that allows you to connect to people you know through other friends. A website that has the power to organize people in a way that has never been done before. Will you be my Friendster?
Take 6 degrees of separation, make it digital, easy to use, and you’ve got Friendster. The concept is simple as a multilevel marketing ploy: join, write a bio of yourself, upload pictures, and invite your friends. In time your friends will invite their friends, and so on. These friends comprise the user’s “personal network,” people who the user is connected to through various degrees of separation. As more users invite their friends, the more the personal network grows and creates more user connectivity.
This website is currently changing the social fabric of society by allowing users unprecedented access to information about other users. Users are able to send messages to potential love interests as well as people they find simply interesting. There is a bulletin board that only the user’s friendsters can read, which limits the scope of who can read various news, announcements, or personal information posted by the user. Furthermore, the free exchange of personal information allows activists to find other activists in their personal network by simply searching for the word “activist.” Friendster has been used to organize various flash mobs around the country as well as simple protests. Its true organizing power has yet to be fully utilized to this date.
“I’ve been able to meet up with quite a few people through this website” says one user who wishes to remain anonymous. “Friendster has allowed me to make many important connections through a lot of random people. I’ve found a job and even a girlfriend through Friendster.” This user’s comments underscore the important social implications this website brings about. People can be found more easily and through less tedious ways than ever before. A simple E-mail address or Instant Messenger screen name gives only so much information about someone, yet Friendster takes user supplied personal information to a new and far reaching level.
However, there is a potential danger in Friendster. The ethos of Total Information Awareness exists within this website. Users pictures, personal information, and their friends are accessible by nearly anyone in their growing personal network. This means that if a ‘suspect’ was on Friendster, the powers that be would know exactly how to lure the person (via their biography) and what friends should be watched. This potential downfall could make many people less apt to join some random website, yet there is one important exception, the Fakester.
The Fakester is simply a user who creates a fake persona. Ranging from George Bush himself to Washington, DC, the website allows (but does not want) people to create identities that are completely fake. If a user wants to be something or someone they’ve always wanted to be, they can do it on Friendster. Users can be friends with such Fakesters as Critical Mass, Dupont Circle, American & George Washington Universities, or even DC Indymedia. The inclusion of the Fakester allows for somewhat anonymous use of this socially important website.
Although it was created in San Francisco, of the 2,000,000+ people on Friendster, it is said that more users reside in the DC area than anywhere else. Through a seemingly random set of personal connections the DC metro area could theoretically be considered the most socially & digitally connected cities in the world. This human connectivity allows activists to reach each other through a friendly medium that can foster a larger movement within the area and the world.
Friendster, a friend of activism, a friend of yours?
You be the judge.