I’ve been aware of facebook for a while (I work at a university after all), but I hadn’t signed up because I didn’t have a specific need to. While I could see its value in a high school or college setting it wasn’t clear to me that it would be all that useful personally. However since I’m participating in the 30 Day Challenge and they recommended using it as a team collaboration tool I went ahead and signed up yesterday. My first impression of facebook is quite good. The collaborative functionality and overall refinement is very nice and quite professional. It definitely makes social competitor myspace.com look like a worn out child’s coloring book. MySpace has been enormously popular (especially among the high school crowd in the last couple years), but from an aesthetic and web standards standpoint, it’s always made me cringe.
After fleshing out my profile and exploring a little bit further my second thought is that Facebook is going to kill paid membership sites like reunion.com. It’s free, it provides virtually the same high school class related functionality and a whole lot more besides. While searching I discovered one of my best friends was already signed up as well as numerous (usually younger) alums from my high school that I recognized and I only expect those numbers to grow by the time my 20th reunion rolls around.
The other thing about Facebook that really interests me at this point is its development potential. Facebook supports third party web applications. The Facebook API hasn’t been out all that long, but more websites are integrating via widgets all the time. Amazon.com, box.net, del.icio.us, flickr and twitter are just a few that offer support for Facebook. Here’s a more complete list of Facebook widgets.
All in all, Facebook is a useful and powerful social tool and I’m intrigued by its future potential as more and more people outside its current college age demographic start joining and using it.