More on Friendster: Chewbacca is My Friend

After reading Alice W’s note that the Star Wars Kid is in her personal network, I found that he was in mine as well. I know him though about four different people, and Chewbacca knows him directly.
Chewbacca has over a thousand friends. Clearly he’s not a serious user of the system. This is a flaw of friendster: friend inflation. I’ve been using friendster purely for the purpose of entertainment – a purpose well served by Chewbacca. Friend inflation would be a liability to anyone using friendster for its ostensible purpose: dating and friend finding. Chewbacca creates friendly spam. He adds hundreds of friends to a personal network, but no real connection (“oh, I see we both have the same imaginary friend, want to have dinner with me tonight?”). Again, friendster is limited by its adherence to absolutes. There are no good friends or mere acquaintances, only friends and “not-friends”. (How about enemies? Someone has already registered, but there’s no site.)
Friendster data is a marketers dream. Imagine plotting out a chart of how consumers are connected. Give free products to people like Chewbacca (if he was real) and watch your message spread. A graphical representation would also reveal who the most connected people were, not just in popularity, but in influence (connections to popular people, or connections to connectors to popular people).