Is Facebook creating better community or making our relationships more shallow?

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about Facebook.   Jeremiah, Scoble, and Nick can’t stop talking about it.  Scoble recently called Facebook “the new business card.” For me, my excitement goes in waves.  I get excited about it and then I two or three weeks without using it.

I just wonder… is Facebook helping us to stay in touch with our community or is it making our relationships more shallow and voyeuristic?

A few weeks ago, I was saying good bye to one of my friends who was moving out of town.   I said something like, “We should make sure that we’re Facebook friends.  It’ll help us all stay in touch.”   So a good face-to-face relationship has turned into the Facebook Newsfeed and Wall posts?  Whats up with that?

There is the Facebook Platform which people are so excited about.  Just take a look at the top applications… Top Friends, Super Poke, Graffiti, Free Gifts, Fortune Cookie, and Horoscope.    While poking people can be fun for a little while, which of these Facebook apps really benefit my life in any way?  They don’t send me running to my computer when I get home from work.

I think Facebook Groups is probably one of the most underdeveloped features in the whole product.  For the most part, people don’t take advantage of the actual group aspects of the application.  Facebook Groups have become profile labels.  You can  be in the “I like naps” group.  This group doesn’t talk about naps or plan get togethers to nap.  It’s just a label.

The Facebook Newsfeed is cool but some people use it and some people don’t.  A lot of times the people that I want to hear from or about keep their updates private and so I’ll never see them.   I dunno.

Just so I’m not all negative… Facebook Events are great.  If I’m marketing a get together, it’s one medium for getting the word out.  For some reason, I still prefer Upcoming as a main marketing tool.   I like Facebook Photos but I feel pretty emotionally invested in Flickr.  I like Facebook Video, especially being able to send my long distance friend video messages.

I dunno….

Over the next week I wanna write a series of posts about Facebook.  I’m going to dive into more of the features.  I want to dive into the philosophy of Facebook and see if I can identify what about it is missing and were it could be improved.  I’ll also see if I can identify what type of social need its filling which is causing it to be so successful.

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