With the help of thefacebook.com, hundreds of Bowdoin students are meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones without even leaving their desks.
Since Harvard junior Mark Zuckerberg started the Web site in February, thefacebook.com has expanded to include Bowdoin College and roughly 98 other college and universities across the country.
The online directory networks registered students with fellow classmates, campus organizations, old high school friends, and complete strangers who by chance attend the same school.
Some students use the site to contact people they haven't seen since elementary school.
The idea of a college-specific online correspondence service is not new to Bowdoin students. Last year, 1,408 students became members of Bowdoinmatch.com, a site that paired applicants based on their personal answers to a multiple choice questionnaire.
Bowdoinmatch.com is part of CampusMatch.net, a network of similar college match sites. The original site, created by Wesleyan College students, never expanded to include schools other than Williams, Colby, Oberlin, and Bowdoin and seems to have lost the cult following it once had.
Bowdoinmatch.com hit campus last spring, and despite instant popularity, it was quickly deemed a passing fad by skeptical students.
"The reason that interest in BowdoinMatch dwindled so fast was that no one really took it seriously. It was 'the new thing' and it was fun to see who you were compatible with, but no one really used it to meet people," said Sara Utzschneider '07.
Thefacebook.com, however, is attracting more and more attention everyday.
As of press time, 987 Bowdoin students registered with the new service.
"I can guarantee that it will pass a thousand before day's end," said the site's spokesperson, Chris Hughes.
With such a rapid registration rate for Bowdoin students, and with over 258,000 total current users nationwide, thefacebook.com doesn't seem like a waning craze.
Although the idea of posting private information such as class schedules, cell phone numbers, and summer plans on the Internet could seem risky, the site assures that information will only be released to the Bowdoin community.
Thefacebook.com is especially appealing to first years whose campus connections are usually limited to floor-mates, Pre-O groups, and the occasional fluke friendship formed during the madness of Orientation.
Philip Wilson '08 admits that it was reassuring to know a few friendly faces on a fairly unfamiliar campus when arriving during the last week of August. Although he used thefacebook.com frequently this summer and at the start of the year to meet new people at Bowdoin, he said now that he is on campus and amidst the social scene, the site has slipped away as a focal point of his social life.
Although some students feel interest in the site has already reached its peak, Hughes said that the fun hasn't yet ended.
"[We] will be adding new features within the coming weeks which will make it even more useful," he said. "We hope to further increase the functionality of the site so that it becomes even more a part of students' daily lives."
Tara D'Errico '08 is already thinking ahead to the future value of thefacebook.com.
"Just think about how easy it will be to stay in touch with people after we graduate," she said.
Thefacebook's membership is not limited to enrolled students. As of midweek, 71 self-classified Bowdoin alumnae and six staff members were registered with the site. Faculty are also permitted to sign up, although no Bowdoin professors have created profiles.