Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Facing up to new realities

I am not the first parent to be intrigued by my teenagers' interest in Facebook. But I went a stage further and created a page for myself. My elder teenager told me that I was too old to have a page on Facebook. I ignored that piece of "advice" and explored to quickly find that at the International Monetary Fund there is a network so I joined that; only one person responded to my invitation to be a friend. That was nearly two years ago. I forget how many were in the IMF network in 2006 but now it's over 450. Since I joined Facebook it has remained an amusing piece of software that I never used. Then some unconnected friends said something over the past few days and that led me to revisit my page. Well, I spent most of my birthday getting a metaphorical full "facial" and really using Facebook.

Within a 24 hour period I have realised a lot of things about this social networking phenomenon. I love photography and have been chronicling family life in pictures for decades; with a digital camera sharing pictures has been much simpler. But doing so by e-mail has always been cumbersome. Facebook suddenly simplified this for me by allowing me to create online albums. Suddenly, I had motive to let all of my contacts know about this. Then whammo! I see that I have created an avalanche of new Facebook members. If this were a pyramid scheme, I would be shooting way up to the top. All of a sudden by the simple deed of seeking to share my pictures I have become a stealth recruiter. To share you have to join and so the spiral goes up. I know I have lots of friends but seeing them grow on Facebook is weird.

Then there is the "six degrees of separation" issue. You quickly see with Facebook that you have common acquaintances. I have not yet found amongst my new friends any connections that were not known to us, but this sharing is only a day old. I have encountered a lot of coincidences in my life so I am awaiting my share through Facebook.

In the Caribbean, attempts are being made to tap into the marketing potential of Facebook by developing applications that feature regional characteristics. A recent example is Jamaican Sayings (see report on Silicon Caribe), which helps people learn how to speak Jamaican: "Is Linguaphone me did use, man!" Natural enough, but there is no end to opportunities, not least creating other, regional, social networking sites.

When you look at how Facebook has grown, like topsy, from a few contacts at Ivy League universities to almost anyone who is at least in their early teens you again wonder what we were doing before it arrived. Waiting for friends to call?

In fact there seems to be no end to what you can do on Facebook. I can see that this could be a time gobbler if I am not careful. So as the cartoon above suggests I may need someone to tell me when I should go and do other things (if you like the cartoon see http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/). But for the moment I am going to enjoy discovering its potential.

2 comments:

Bajan Lass said...

Welcome to the world of Facebook, Dennis. You hit the nail on the head when you said "there seems to be no end to what you can do on Facebook". In fact, I quite enjoy catching up with old friends, family and old schoolchums - some of whom I have not seen nor heard from since I left school many moons ago. And, as you rightly stated, sharing pictures has just become that much easier. You will also notice that your "friend" list will grow and you will find yourself becoming addicted..Just a word of caution, but then again, being a STUD, you may have the time.

Gio said...

Yeah...facebook can be an awful addiction for the first few days... but the constant invitations to use this application or that application slowly wear down even the most enthusiastic. Now I log in and check to see if anyone has played in a scrabolous game has tagged any photos of me and occasionally succumb to the odd application like political compass that might serve as a talking point in a later conversation.