When people first hear of Facebook they all think the same thing: “Why would anyone want to do that?”
… users didn’t think they wanted constant, up-to-the-minute updates on what other people are doing. Yet when they experienced this sort of omnipresent knowledge, they found it intriguing and addictive. Why?
Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye. …
NY Times article – Brave New World of Digital Intimacy
I log in to Facebook a couple of times a day myself.
The concept of “ambient awareness” is so new, by the way, that there’s no Wikipedia page for it.