Cybernaut 

You gotta have Friendsters

It’s like playing six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but with practical applications.

Ever been in Europe or Central America or somewhere else thousands of kilometres from home and met someone who knows someone you know?

Ever play the name game? You know how it goes – Where are you from? Where abouts in Toronto? Where did you go to school? Do you know a guy named Andrew Mitchell? Yes, THE Andrew Mitchell?

A new service called Friendster, still in its beta stages, allows you to cultivate an online community of friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends. Each person in your own community will have a slightly different list of their own, when include siblings, summer camps, schools, jobs, travel and so on.

Friendster already has more than a million users, with people using their connections to find dates, travel information, golfing partners, and more. Think about it – you’re not exactly a stranger because your friends can actually vouch for you, and they can even set the whole thing up.

It’s a great idea, but it’s already been twisted for nefarious ends. It only took a few short months – Friendster went online in March – for people to start selling access into their little social circles, which they claim are filled with musicians, artists, models and others.

It’s only a matter of time before the salesman infiltrate the service, as well as social opportunists, but if you’re careful there’s no reason you can’t keep your community exclusive if you don’t add every person you’ve ever met to your list of connections.

Friendster is an online service, kind of like Hotmail. You don’t have to download any software. The one problem is that the service has become so popular recently that the servers tend to get overloaded at times.

It’s still pretty basic, but you can see where this site is going.

I was only on it a week, with three connections connecting me to a few hundred other strangers, when the messages from long-lost friends came in. One week later and I now have eight close friends on the network, connecting me to thousands of contacts.

I plan to use friendster to help me organize a high school reunion. If I tell two friends, and they tell two friends, I should have contacts for my entire graduating class within a couple of months.

Check it out at www.friendster.com.

File swapping foes get bolder

In last week’s Cybernaut, I mentioned that file swapping of music, movies and games had dropped about 15 per cent in the month of June as a result of recent entertainment industry lawsuits against some of the biggest file swappers on the net.

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