"There is a black sun which is not visible to the human eye. It is our beacon and its fire burns within us." -- Akkadian temple inscription

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Black Sun

Steven Kaye's irregularly updated blog

Brooding over recent events, I've decided that this decade is clearly defective and needs to be sent back to the manufacturer. Consider:
  • Acquaintance from college dead of a drug overdose
  • Ex-colleague from Gemini killed (he was on Flight 93)
  • Beloved uncle killed (combination of poor health and hospital screwup)
  • Meltdown at work nearly gets me fired, and I'm now keeping the dubious herbal supplement industry in business
  • Acquaintance from high school dead - same age as me, leaving behind a fiancee and two kids. Still don't know what he died of, as the death notice didn't say and the funeral home says they can't give out this information.
  • Mom had a quintuple bypass
I’ve been poking around Friendster for a few months on the instigation of a friend, logically enough. For those of you not familiar with it, Friendster is one of those social networking sites like the defunct SixDegrees or Ryze, oriented towards dating. It’s been around for several years, but got a push from mentions in several high-traffic blogs in 2002. Still in beta, for reasons which escape me. Friendster’s learned some from the mistakes of its predecessors – you decide how much information is available in your public profile, you can edit your friend list at any time and they’ve finally gotten around to adding a means for flagging profiles for review by the mysterious Them. As far as I can tell, Friendster’s business model is “Let’s get people visiting the site regularly and show them text ads. And if we could sell them some books on online dating and a few T-shirts while we’re at it, that would be OK.” Some influential blogs have had people bitching about Friendster lately. Apparently having space in one’s profile for Favorite Books, Favorite Movies, etc. doesn’t do justice to the complexity of one’s innermost being. If these people could get off their soapboxes for a minute and actually look at how people use Friendster, they’d note a few things which weaken their argument. Little things, like people listing their favorite authors instead of favorite books, or the plethora of Friendster users employing the favorite TV shows space to note that they don’t watch much TV, actually. Or people creating multiple profiles for themselves. Or even fake profiles. Heck, people aren’t even accepting the limitation of communicating solely through Friendster – you can find posts on Friendster’s bulletin board directing people to IRC chats. A good thing, considering that you can only view posts from people in your personal network and the bulletin board isn't threaded, rendering it an irritating conglomeration of random conversational fragments. People aren't considering themselves bound by what the creators of Friendster may have intended. Besides the bulletin board, I’ll also note that testimonials seem to be used largely as a means for men to talk about the friendliness, all-around coolness and breast size of their female acquaintances, not necessarily in that order. And with the addition of the ability to search for Friendster users by name in addition to e-mail address, stalkers across the country are doubtless salivating. Still, Friendster has put me in touch with another college acquaintance I haven’t seen in ten years. And I’ve learned about the secret ballroom dancing mafia which rules the Bay Area, which has to count for something. So come bother me, and we can talk about creative misuse of technology.
© 2002, Steven Kaye