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May 21, 2007

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Interesting thoughts, Sam. You've touched on an area of great interest to me. As I wrote this post, I was looking for research on the relationship between online/offline friendships and pretty much came up empty.

The Berkeley post is terrific as it gives depth and context to the blurring that is happening.

One of the other elements that I find facscinating is in the last paragraph, where Ann's new friendships with old high school friends is discussed. She writes, "This is the girl that I’m talking about, that I didn’t talk to in high school but when we’re in the same school, now we’re talking." This connection probably doesn't happen without Facebook.

And here's a fresh story from the wonderfully bright folks at berkeley's infoschool, specifically heather horst today, about the blurring boundaries between the two realms: http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/node/76

I'm with Andy when it comes to valuing that in-between time. The day to day use of tools like facebook is the bread and butter, in 2007, of real life network maintenance, planning, etc for college kids and people like myself. The online and offline realms merge more and more. In terms of volume-of-use, much more goes on in that middle part. Obviously you were referring to 'power' of the tool, not the amount of use. But subtract that middle part of the curve and you're left with a headless relationship. A clear example of this can be when kids use that first yellow part to get to know one another before they ever meet--say, after they all get accepted to a school, as I've written about--but if they never follow up on that later, then all that was wasted. Online friendships are not quite so 'set it and forget it' as we might imagine.

"don't underestimate the importance of the same practice ('Facebooking') during the on-campus time. Students are connecting with H.S. friends, and they're using the online tools as a bridge, a crutch, or a framework for support of their real world interactions."

Great point, Andy. For off-campus friends, we'd probably be looking at an inverse of the curve where the low point (where Facebook does its magic to help maintain the relationship) occurs during the school year. For on-campus friends, or friends-to-be, you're right that Facebook provides that crutch or as you put it so well, "a framework for support of their real world interactions."

Interesting (as usual). I think you're right about the "yellow tails," but don't underestimate the importance of the same practice ('Facebooking') during the on-campus time. Students are connecting with H.S. friends, and they're using the online tools as a bridge, a crutch, or a framework for support of their real world interactions.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal just reported on Facebook's plans to "let other companies provide their services on special pages within its popular Web site. These companies will be able to link into Facebook users' networks of online friends, according to people familiar with the matter."

I'm going to write about this in a few days on Alumni Futures, as it has implications for alumni associations. As usual (again), Charlie, you're a week or two ahead of me!

Here's the WSJ item:

http://tinyurl.com/24zu2a

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