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Facebook landrush: 3 million names registered in first day

I’m not really a Facebook user. I set up an account sometime in 2007, and then promptly forgot my login ID and password. Nothing about Facebook really appealed to me: I’m not sure why, perhaps at least partly because a lot of what it does I had already more or less been doing for a decade with my own website/blog.

However, I heard a few weeks ago that the Facebook folks were going to start allowing people to set up personal or “vanity” urls. So instead of “http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=39395883”, you could have something like “http://www.facebook.com/cooldude”. I thought I should probably lay claim to some kind of recognizable URL, and so I dug through my old notes and tried to dredge up my old Facebook account information.

Things didn’t go so well for me: initially, I couldn’t find which of my several email addresses I had used to create the account. So I figured I’d create a new account, and set that up with a fancy new URL. Unfortunately, the folks at Facebook realized that the availability of “personal” or vanity URLs might cause a bit of a flood of people creating new accounts purely to “squat” on potentially popular names. So they put some time limits on the process: your account must be over a certain age before you can claim a named URL. This meant my newly-created account was not going to allow me to get a personal name.

I finally dug up the email account I had used to create my original Facebook account, and even found the password. A few minutes later I was logging in and, as the owner of an “entitled” account, I was immediately prompted with the option to select my own personal URL. After trying a few names and discovering them already claimed, I settled on the obvious: http://www.facebook.com/kgadams.

All of this was intriguing, and it went quite smoothly once I got my account information sorted out. But how were things behind the scenes for the Facebook folks? From the looks of things, they were ready for a catastrophe, and had everything in place to manage it. Over 200,000 people signed up for personal URLs in the first three minutes, and over a million within the first hour after the service became available at 12:01 AM EDT on Saturday (9:01 PM Pacific time Friday). There are well over 3 million registered “vanity” URLs on Facebook now, which is something like 2% of their total user base. Not bad for the first day.

I still won’t likely be spending much time on Facebook: I have Twitter for “quick” updates, and this blog for my larger thoughts, so I’m not sure what that leaves for Facebook. But it is worth checking out, and I’m there now, with my own proper URL.

4 comments to Facebook landrush: 3 million names registered in first day

  • It’s interesting. You spent how much time out of your day to get something you don’t really want and will probably never use?

    There is something odd about mob psychology that makes us want something because everyone else wants it … or even stronger, because we may not be able to have it later. That gnawing fear that even though we don’t want it now, can’t conceive of ever wanting it, we just might, possibly, perhaps change our mind and then not be able to get it.

    It’s like cats and closed doors … they couldn’t care less what’s in a room, but close the door and suddenly they HAVE to be in there. If only we could harvest this aspect of psychology, this need to “keep our options open” as it were, to preserve the environment and endangered species. We is funny critters, we Homo Sapiens.

  • Some people watch American Idol, Oprah, or Dr. Phil. That’s about how much time I spent.

    People waste time on things all the time. I elected to waste time on Facebook because I was curious how the process worked as much as anything. But I could have wasted my time on any number of other things 🙂

  • “I thought I should probably lay claim to some kind of recognizable URL, and so I dug through my old notes and tried to dredge up my old Facebook account information.

    Things didn’t go so well for me:”

    and

    “I still won’t likely be spending much time on Facebook: I have Twitter for “quick” updates, and this blog for my larger thoughts, so I’m not sure what that leaves for Facebook”

    It’s not so much about the quantity of time or if it was a waste… but as opposed to work, for which you get paid, your experiments with twitter to examine something truly new,or your tinkering with your clocks, from which you clearly derive great pleasure, even by your own descriptions, the face book thing seemed to be something you felt you *had* to do, rather than something you wanted to do with your free time.

    After all, I asked how much time you spent – you are the one that replied calling it “wasted” time 😉

    We all end up in situations like that, (it’s just easier to spot in our best friends blog than in ourselves *lol*), it seems an essential part of human nature and a powerful motivator. I find it interesting, and I find it puzzling that as a society we can use this motivator to sell things but we don’t seem to use it to further the “greater good” as it were. I wonder why? Is it because we won’t use it that way, or because to won’t work that way.

  • I don’t actually get paid for extra hours I work, so that’s not really a good comparison (the joys of salary).

    I think, though, that I see your point. I’m “just keeping my options open”, on the off chance that I change my opinion about Facebook at some point in the future. I guess the effort (one to two hours) versus realizing a year from now that I missed a one-time chance seemed to balance towards making the effort.

    If I could put in a one to two hour effort once and, say, save all the cloud leopards in the world, of course I would. The reality is, however, that we make the “big” problems seem totally insurmountable without making massive changes in everything we do.

    I do things like have taps that I can quickly and easily turn off and on (while maintaining the temperature settings) so I only run the tap long enough to fill my glass or spit my toothpaste. I don’t leave it running for five minutes while I stand there… and that extra effort of stopping and starting the water probably costs me a few seconds a day, an hour or so a year, but maybe saves a few gallons of water for the future. It seems trivial, but if we only look at the big things we will never make those small changes that impact the future.

    Look at recycling as an example: 30 years ago, no one would have believed that people could change so that 50% of what used to go in land fills now gets reused. It takes a few minutes a day for hundreds of millions of people, but the ultimate impact is big. I remember how huge they made the problem seem when I was a kid. But enough people got together and said “well, it might not save the world, but here is what we can do”- and did it. It hasn’t resolved our landfill problem, but it has made a major difference.

    I think humans *do* make the small changes towards possible future need, if the problem can be expressed in a way that makes the effort seem worthwhile. The biggest change in human psychology will come when we, as a species, begin to consistently visualize our 6.5 billion strong impact. If every person on earth decided to throw their McDonald’s cup on the ground instead of in the garbage for a few months… imagine the damage that would be done. But we still think as if we live in a tiny village of hunter/gatherers: we don’t yet really grasp how small efforts can have huge potential payoffs.

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