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Facebook: what is it good for?

Absolutely nothing? No, that's war.

After months of regular usage I finally figured out what I like to use Facebook for. Surprisingly: for very little.

I started using Facebook many months ago. The first thrill came from discovering long lost friends. Just type their names, verify it's really them and add them to the list. For extra credit browse their friends to see any other people you know.

Once I had enough friends and read about their whereabouts in their profiles it was fun and exciting to see their status updates.

Then applications seemed cool and even useful. I really liked the apps that let me rate books and movies and share my reviews with my friends. I rated a few things, but after a while it became like work and that was the end of that.

The problems started when my friends discovered applications. Being tickled, poked and even super poked was cute the first 5 times. But you can't underestimate the boundless energy of your friends who happily ping you in increasingly silly ways over and over again.

And it gets worse because every Facebook application is obsessed with viral spread. Applications are so desperate to distinguish themselves from the thousands of apps nobody cares about (98% of all apps?) that they use every possible opportunity to let people invite their friends. Many pop up a dialog containing all your friends preselected for infection! I hope my friends write really dull things on my super fun wall because I have no inclination whatsoever to install another application.

So, I quickly learnt to ignore all requests for new applications. I don't even see them anymore.

Which brings us to the main point of this post. Facebook: what is it good for?

Pictures! The little icon labelled "photos" takes me to a page that shows the latest pictures posted by my friends, in reverse chronological order. Brilliant! I log in once a week and with one click get to see a current picture of someone I know and even find out what they're up to.

I find Facebook's photo sharing easier and more convenient than sites like Picasa or Flickr, only because I can see all my friends' pictures in one place.

Uploading pictures is made easy with helper applications. Facebook has an iPhoto plugin with a very convenient interface. It lets you select pictures, tag your friends in them and then automatically scales and posts them to the site. Nice! For security, the final step is to go to the website and approve the images you just uploaded.

Having finally made peace with Facebook, balance was restored to the force when... Invitations started pouring in for hi5, family mingle and others! Ach! One social networking site is more than enough for me.

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