I'm addicted to Facebook, I unapologetically admit.
Rather than be contrite, I delight in addicting my friends, and just this week I rejoiced in converting 3 hold-outs! I've blogged about my Facebook addiction before, but prior to last night my addiction was practiced at home alone.
Last night, I went to Facebook Camp Toronto 4. It was a free event (my favourite kind) at MaRS, which also hosted Mesh and is shaping itself as the spot for Internet and technology. There were hundreds of people attending, mostly developers. Toronto, it was pointed out, has the largest Facebook developer base in the world - not to mention one of the largest networks. While not a developer, my addiction and recent research fueled my desire to attend.
The speakers were excellent, including reps from the Palo Alto company itself, as well as three third-party application developers. Here were the main points for me:
1) Facebook will very soon (next week, perhaps) be doing a significant redesign. Mostly, the redesign will allow users to clean up, organize, and have more control over their Profile page. My profile page was getting so crowded that I had to delete things just to clean up. This won't be necessary anymore, but the downside is there won't be the one main page per person , rather a series of tabbed pages. Here's more info on the changes (must be a member of Facebook to see).
2) Facebook is getting serious about advertising. We knew Facebook would soon be vamping up its efforts to monetize its userbase, but they've got some really promising tools to make the actions more relevant to users. Basically, ads can by "hyper-targetted" based not only on demographics but also interests and other Facebook profile data. As a user, I think this will help make advertising relevant to me - I'd love to see ads for any Xena Warrior Princess products or services that may be out there, for example.
3) New fun apps keep getting are added to Facebook regularly. There were three presentations of Canadian-made Facebook apps, all of which seem to be very promising and potentially addictive:
a) Mouse Hunt - a quick and easy game (with great artwork)
b) Praize'n'raze - allows you to vote for your favourite local services
c) Slangbook - enter and vote on your favourite slang
I haven't had a chance to check them all out. But what I love about Facebook applications is that with various websites that require social participation, it is difficult to get one's social contacts there. For example, I am an ardent user of del.icio.us, Digg, and OurFaves but I can't convince my friends to join. My friends are on Facebook and so getting them to use various web applications is much esaier, and thus realizing the value and fun.
I saw the developers, Jerome Paradis and Kim Vallee, of one of my favourite Facebook applications, Status Competition, were at the camp last night. Status Competition is so effective and fun because it fits my Facebook behaviour. I like to quick check into Facebook about 1-2 times a day to see what's happening with my friends and I love to interact with the content in various ways. I love Status Competition because not only can you see at a glance the various status updates of your friends, but you can give a vote to the ones you enjoy and designate your feelings on the posting from "cool", "funny", "weird", "sad", "confusing" or "meh". The competition is mostly for bragging rights, but it's not whether you win or lose, it's how often you update your status (at least once a day is my preference).
It's great to see such cool Internet stuff happening in Canada. We may not have a company like Facebook in Canada, but apparently we have some great application developers here.