Finally, I'm on Facebook

My publisher created a Facebook page for my soon-to-be-published book Beauty Pays. For the page to be effective, the Press told me that I had to add things; and in order to add things, I needed to sign up for Facebook. What to do?? My wife’s response, “Join the 21st century, Daniel.”

Being an obedient husband, I did so and just became the 500,000,000 and 1st Facebook enrollee. I’ve been on Linked-in for a while, but I doubt I’ll ever use it—so many more people are on Facebook. There are tremendous network externalities in social network sites—you want to be on the site with the most links to people with whom you want to be in touch. That is clearly Facebook. I’m not sure, though, that I like this aspect of the 21st century.


Will we get a Q&A with you on this book? I hope so!


I keep my professional -- LinkedIn -- and personal -- Facebook -- lives separate. There's some overlap in my contacts but very little.

Enter your name

What I dislike about Facebook is that even if you *don't* sign up and *don't* agree to be part of it, you still are—because there's no way to stop your friends and family members from posting pictures of you or effectively building a network for you.

My sister has been the victim of a mentally unbalanced stalker (police reports, restraining orders, the whole works) , and is constantly having to explain to well-meaning, friendly people that, no, she doesn't want the world to know that her son is on the soccer team that meets every Saturday morning at this particular park, or that they're going to be on vacation next week, or that her husband is out of town. As far as we can tell, there is no mechanism to say "never, ever post anything about this person".


So your complaint about Facebook is that your sister is afraid that someone that obviously already knows "too much" about her can allow him to stalk her from the comfort of his couch?

I'd think there would be a preference to be virtually stalked than actually stalked. Actual stalking involves the stalker sitting outside your home 24/7 waiting for you to leave, following you, taking notes on your day-to-day activities, etc. How this is better than someone just looking at pictures of you from their home? You and your sister are blaming Facebook for something it has no involvement in.

Impossibly Stupid

"There are tremendous network externalities in social network sites"

Are there? Or do they just serve to waste time and create an overall drain on the economy? Perhaps even to the extent that there is an overall correlation between the rise of this "networking" technology and the decline of prosperity.

I never understood why everyone is so eager to give their customers to the Zuck-head at Facebook. It's not like it's difficult or particularly expensive to have your own site and engage people directly. If they want to chat amongst themselves about it on Twitter (or whatever), then fine; let them link out to your site. You should be gathering eyeballs, not giving them away.


"overall correlation". proof please.

Ulla Lauridsen

A word of advice: Keep professionel connections on Linked-in and your social network on Facebook, or you won't be able to post anything on either, because a lot of what you might want to tell your friends is unsuitable for the professional network.


"you want to be on the site with the most links to people with whom you want to be in touch."

Absolutely, and there's a strong effect of accumulative advantage at play here too. I joined Google's social networking site Orkut back in 2005 and became involved in international discussion forums there. I still think their system is better for debates than the Facebook alternatives. But Facebook has the advantage of numbers and people are being sucked away from Orkut. Come back please! There's still life in us yet.

Ross Hartshorn

In the case of social networks (electronic or otherwise), there is an optimal size. It's bigger than 0, certainly, but the optimal is not infinite, either, for most purposes. If I want to get information, for example, then it's better to have access to a smaller, better-informed network than just the biggest network possible.

One of the purposes of attending a university is to network. Yet, we do not see the University of Texas at Austin (by some measures the largest student population) as the one that the scions of the wealthiest families want to get into, by and large. Rather, they want to get into something like Harvard, that is still large, but more elite (in the sense they're looking for).

LinkedIn may never be Facebook, but perhaps it's not trying to be. It depends on how you're intending to "monetize" your traffic. If you're wanting to sell access to a reliably professional audience, you would probably do better there than Facebook.



Note: there is a difference between those involved in the site in general and those that can be involved in your corner of the site.

We're all part of the Human social network, but that does not mean a person in Uzbekistan is involved in your world.

Humans have a limited ability involve people in their lives. I believe a recent study said the magic number is 150 people in which the average human can feel involved with on a more day to day basis. So for many, the unconscious goal is to fill that 150 with the people that will best serve them. So of course people with high aspirations will want to put them in position to fill their 150 slots with the "best and brightest" (Harvard) and not just "as many as possible regardless of quality" (go State!).

College is not just about networking, it's about filling your network with those that can make the best for you, thus the difference between Harvard and UT. If Harvard could grow in size without losing the quality or prestige, I'm sure they would, but their goal is not to blindly increase their network size.



"That is clearly Facebook. I’m not sure, though, that I like this aspect of the 21st century."

More interesting than the rest of your post would be the answer to why?