I have to say, I have been skeptical about Friendster since I received my first spam many months ago. But when I was invited to join by one of my professors yesterday (given, he’s a social networks researcher), I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer.
Of course I’m drooling over the data set, and worked up about the potential to do some analysis, but the most exciting part has been exploring the structure of my personal network. Two initial observations:
- Friends are often connected in unexpected ways. Even though the interface doesn’t support this sort of exploration, it is common to find a third party that is connected to two of your friends you would never expect to know each other. Perhaps they don’t, but damn, it’s a small world.
- Personal networks have quite a bit of overlap. After adding a few of my friends, I was connected to a surprising number of people, over 5k, in what I assume is three degrees of separation. But with every new friend I add, the number of new people I in my network seems to shrink.
For all it’s worth, Friendster is much more fun than I thought it would be. Obviously, the more people they convince, the more interesting it will become. And then of course they’ll fail to find a suitable business model, close their front door, and sell off this amazing data set for millions of dollars. Or get acquired by Microsoft.