It was all in good fun, I thought, to tease my former boss Jason Pontin, now editor of MIT's Technology Review, about using Facebook, of all things, to hunt for interesting startup ideas. But the well-meant mockery soon uncovered a deeper issue: My friend misunderstands how one is meant to use Facebook. Pontin, ever the technoliteralist, takes Facebook at its word, thinking of it as a tool to replicate real-world relationships. He misses the real use that self-promoters like Jason Calacanis and Robert Scoble have discovered: Spamming the less-important people who have volunteered to be your "friends" — people who are really just fans, to whom you have no meaningful relationship.
We thought it amusing, if a bit sad, when Technology Review editor-in-chief started asking for startups to pitch him for his New York Times column on Facebook. But for him to continue the apparently unanswered plea, more than a week later? Maudlin veering on pathetic. Please, someone with an interesting startup to profile — do yourself a favor, stop flinging yourself on the rocky shoals of Valleywag, and try Pontin instead. We hear he's easy.