What are "friends" – and what's it costing businesses?

The Guardian reports on research by Dr. Reader (Sheffield Hallam) looking at the nature of friendship, and how that is/ isn’t changing with the way that people are using Facebook etc.,
While they found that many users may have more “friends”, they still had the same 5 or so really close friends that the average person has in previous studies of friendship.
I recently read (I think in Tapley’s Designing your Second Life , that in SL, it’s better etiquette to offer a calling card, rather than friendship when you first meet someone.

In related items, the BBC looks at the increasing tendency of firms to ban individuals from using Social Networking sites, as it is seen to ‘costs businesses dear’

I find that I still struggle with knowing the correct etiquette in Facebook. If someone asks me to be their friend, is it OK to say “No”? If someone offers me an application, are they mortally offended if I say “No”. Are my students really interested in the films that I like, or have they just asked everyone in their friends list?

On a more positive note, this week, I was contacted by two old class mates, found my school’s group, was found by my Sister in Law and someone I did my undergraduate degree with. And I’d hardly call myself active there!

I’ve also installed the “Second Friends” application – and Slideshare. I can see particular potential in the latter, if I’m thinking about the eLearning potential of Facebook. I just wish that it had a blogging tool (and the ability to export data as readily as it imports it).

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