What do "msblast", "Mars", "Bertrand Cantat", "Marie Trintignant", "Christopher Walken", "Adolph Christ", and "Los Angeles" have in common? They're all, apparently, on Friendster.

I initially resisted, but peer pressure and curiousity overcame my trademarked apathy -- I've joined Friendster. I'm still not exactly sure what the point of it is; in my mind the system presents a fascinating social experiment, and I'd love to get my hands on their database of interconnections.

I only have 4 direct-link "friends" right now, but I've got 83,031 people in my "personal network". If you aren't familiar with the system, Friendster lets you search through your friends' friends' friends, through at least 4 levels (from what I've been able to determine). I've already discovered one person in my network whom I am linked to through two entirely different chains of friends. Both chains are rather long (4 links), and having a common meta-friend isn't really surprising, statistically. I'm confident that I'm linked to the girl in question even more closely than Friendster knows.

Friendster allows you to search through your personal network by the interests that people put into their profile, and a search for "Christianity, capitalism" gave me quite a significant number of hits (many for "anti-capitalism"). I've messaged a few random people, and asked for a few introductions, and have explored most of functionality of the system. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it, if anything.

As I mentioned above, despite Friendster's attempt to keep everything on-the-level, there is still quite a bit of tom-foolery going on. Which is to be expected, considering that we are still talking about the internet here. As much as I love Los Angeles, I don't think the city really qualifies as friendship matieral. Even still, Friendster is likely accumulating an extensive set of associations between people, and it would be fascinating to get my hands on the raw data and perform some analysis.

Aside from the marketing potential, the sociological data alone would be invaluable. Unlike the networks formed by instant messaging software users (who do not normally fill out their profiles, since they spend most of their time talking to established acquaintances), the people on Friendster are almost all looking to meet new people in real life, and their demographic information is thoroughly fleshed-out and readily available.

If anyone reading this is on Friendster and wants to add me, just look me up by the email address given on my about page.



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