I've recently joined the Facebook community. Many of my design colleagues in The Value Web have been using it for a while. After receiving several invitations, I figured it was was time to check it out. Though I don't yet know what to 'do with it' exactly, I'm finding it fun, engaging, and sticky - just what you'd want out of a social networking utility, and just what is missing from networking sites such as LinkedIn.

Reportedly now signing up around 150,000 new users a day, Facebook has struck a nice balance between professional/business and personal/play. It was started by Mark Zuckerberg, while he was  a student at Harvard. Initially, it was open only to Harvard students, then college students, followed by high school students. Eventually,  a few businesses were invited in and, at last, Facebook opened its membership to everyone.They recently lauched a platform that enables "developers who don't work at Facebook to develop applications just as if they were," in the words of the 23 year-old CEO Zuckerberg. "That's a big deal because it means that all developers have a new way of doing business if they choose to take advantage of it. There are whole companies that are forming whose only product is a Facebook Platform application. That provides an opportunity for them, it provides an opportunity for people who want to make money by investing in those companies, and I think that's something that's pretty exciting to the business community. It's also really exciting to our users because it means that a whole new variety of services are going to be made available." (Time, July 17, 2007)

I doubt I'll ever explore more than a fraction of the applications designed to run on the Facebook platform, which currently total over 4,000. And I'm not overly confident the little space I carve out for myself won't get overly cluttered with unsolicited and unavoidable announcements of hot new tv shows, hollywood rumors and celebrity gaffs. Nonetheless, using only a handful of the available applications, I've feel I've created a useful, personalized, playful (yet not childish) means by which to stay connected with friends and colleagues.

In the aforementioned Time article, I was struck by how resonate his entrepreneurial and organizational intention is with my own experience, and the people I like to work with:

Part of the reason why this is fun is because we've managed to build a team of really smart people who come from different backgrounds and have different experiences and think in different ways. People constantly try to put us in a bucket: are we trying to sell the company? What are we trying to do? What is the business strategy? People are often more interested in why we're hiring a stock-options administrator. Whereas for me and a lot of people around me, that's not really what we focus on. We're just focused on building things.

Right on, Mark.

Check it out if you haven't already. Once there, stop by and say "hello."