Creator of Friendster website not so friendly
SAN FRANCISCO: The millions of high school and college kids on Facebook probably have never heard of Jonathan Abrams or his once-popular website Friendster.
But within a year after its launch in March 2003, Friendster had defined social networking as we know it today. It spurred millions of Americans to fill out their online profiles with loads of personal information and connect with friends online.
The concept inspired hundreds of websites, including some of the world’s most trafficked properties – MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.
As more sites, such as Google Reader and Hulu, add features to make their products more social, Abrams rolls his eyes. He takes pride in his claim to inventing the idea of requesting and accepting friendships online. But because he’s been around it longer than anyone, he’s also getting sick of all the friend requests.
“I’m a little burned out, to be honest. I get maybe five friend requests on Facebook per day,” Abrams said over lunch in San Francisco recently. “I invented this stuff, and now I’m paying for it.”
What Abrams had envisioned was a portal to connect with a tight-knit group of friends. Now, he says, he accepts digital friendships from people he meets through work and from vague acquaintances out of guilt. He finally just threw up his hands and adapted. Facebook and Twitter are now his vehicles for promotion, not friendships.
What he’s promoting is his startup Socializr. A sort of social calendar, the website is a direct competitor of Evite. (How direct? Well, he created grass-roots pages including EviteAlternatives.com to express just how he feels about the ubiquitous event invitation service.)
As mainstream media are beginning to latch onto social sites such as Twitter, there’s evidence that many users are falling off. Twitter creator Jack Dorsey said keeping users engaged is one of the site’s main challenges. – Los Angeles Times.