FriendFeed: A virtual glass house

Published: October 4, 2007 | Last Updated: October 13, 2007 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading

If you have a Facebook page, you’re familiar with the News
Feed function that helps friends stay abreast of each other’s Facebook activities.
When I saw that one of my friends had joined Journalists and Facebook, I took a
look at the group and signed up too. When I saw the Friend Wheel application another
friend added, I decided to do the same. And so it goes.

Each time I sign on to Facebook, I still look at what
everyone is up to but I wonder whether it’s worth my time given that some of my
virtual “friends” and their interests are pretty peripheral to my life…

A new service called Friendfeed, created by four ex-Google
developers, can bring the same type of transparency to the rest of your web
jaunts. If you and your friends sign up for the service, now in the
beta-testing stage, you can keep track of each other’s travels on web pages,
videos, music, and photo-sharing sites.

If I do that, will I still have time to call my real female
friends to ask them what they’re up to, to meet one or two for lunch on the rare
day I don’t have to work, or to catch an occasional movie together? And do I
really want everyone to see every click I make on my “personal” computer?

The new technology seems somewhat akin to sitting in my
house at night with the lights on, with the window shades fully open for the
neighbors to look in. Similarly, it evokes memories of my grandmother who lived
in a tenement in the Bronx and sat beside the
window to see who was coming in and out of the building.

Friends are comfortable with different amounts of privacy
and “social distance” or space between them. To tell you the truth, I’m not
sure I’m ready to open the shades to all but a trusted few.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    is that sometimes when you add a close real-life friend there you end up feeling (falsely?) completely satisfied with the information you see in their feed. they might have been a really close friend recently but now you have literally no personal (live, telephone, even email or chat) interface because facebook feed sketches in some light blanks.

    in a way it’s great because we’re all expected to know and remember so many people these days. this makes for great networking and cocktail chatter (oh, i heard you’re teaching in brooklyn now… how’s steve…etc). the price is that “close” friends become imaginary friends (especially since not all people engage with facebook or update to the same degree–if you’re relying on facebook for your reminders to reach out to people you’re going to miss the ones who don’t log on frequently).

    and i know for a fact my virtual “obligations” take a major chunk of timme away from my “real” social life. between blog surfing, facebook checking, email answering, and some gchatting while i watch tv at night, i’m lucky if i see non-work friends even one day a week. and yet because of the networking i have SO many friends with whom, in theory, i COULD be spending time.

    (i’m reminded at this point of the bronte sisters, who never let their parsonage and associated only with their family and yet still managed to change the world a little.)

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