NASA outstripped by luddite folk musicians

February 10, 2009

I got friended by a singer this morning, she’s connected to a bunch of others in the traditional music community, including the incomparable and intensely sociable Switched At Birth With An Irish Kid Myron B.  I was somewhat surprised to see just how many friends he’d accumulated and it got me thinking.

This one guy has over 400 friends and he hasn’t been on Facebook all that long. 

In the last six months it was my high school class that poured onto Facebook in all its 40-something glory.  Now I’m seeing the folks from the trad. Celtic music scene in there, folks who swore adamantly they’d never use email, what a lot of “bollocks.”  Who’s to say how long they’ve been there, but I’m only seeing them now.  It’s actually very exciting, but what it says to me is that New Media have actually “arrived.”

It’s one thing when the cool kids do it.  Another thing when NASA or other tech-savvy groups take it on.  Now, I’ve been hearing the screaming about how “my MOM is on FACEBOOK!  OMG it’s the End of the World! I have to take a lot of junk off my Profile! EYAARRGGGHHH!”

The folks who are coming aboard now tend to be intensely social people, except for my fiddle teacher, who are either making their living doing music or related activities or use their day jobs to support their habit.  These folks have a real need for networking, knowing who’s up to what, so they can find opportunities and exploit them.  I should not, in retrospect, have been one little bit surprised to find the low-tech high-networking crowd has bought into the benefits of Facebook or that they are making many, many contacts there.  I’m pretty sure a few of the holdouts are there because their wife/husband/SO thought it would be important and created the account.  

Which brings up the side issue of how one person can even begin to track the over four hundred friends Myron has.  I know he knows all these people and can probably tell you something amusing and important about each of them.  But the data volume has got to be mind boggling.  But for ONCE I will not hare off on a wild goose chase.  Er.  Hare off?  Bunny Out?  How about Go Running Off on a Wild Goose Chase…

But, I do think that Facebook has passed a major hurdle if it’s attracting so many non-geeks outside its original demographic (college students) and has clearly hit on something that is actually Useful rather than just cool or amusing.  MySpace is useful for guys like Tommy McDonnell who are promoting music, because of how easy it is to post multiple videos right on the main page.  I suspect that MySpace will wind up hosting a lot of talent with videos they want fans to see, whereas Facebook will wind up the agent of real, useful networking among those folks.

It’s gone from being a cool toy for the hip to a vital tool in everyone’s back pocket. I think THAT’S cool.

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