Facebook phenomenon sparks a new documentary

13 Nov 2007

The growing popularity of social networking site Facebook has sparked ‘Poked!’ a digital film project that may yet morph into a fully fledged TV documentary, siliconrepublic.com has learned.

‘Poked!’ will be spearheaded by technology entrepreneurs Stephen McCormack of Wildwave Technologies and Eamonn Carey from Random Thoughts.

The project is currently at a funding and pilot stage but, according to McCormack, hundreds of Facebook users have got in touch willing to share their stories and observations.

Facebook is one of the fastest growing social networking sites on the planet and is particularly popular among college students, graduates and workers.

By the end of this year it is estimated that Facebook will have over 60 million users worldwide.

McCormack, whose company Wildwave creates internet channels for emerging online TV stations like Joost, said the project emerged out of plans to launch a Wildlight Documentaries channel. Random Thoughts Media is the company behind the Eamon Dunphy sports show on 3 Mobile.

“We were looking at areas we could do documentaries on and realised that no one is looking at Facebook or social networking in general and we felt it would make a really interesting documentary,” says McCormack. “And to keep in the spirit of Facebook we thought it would be exciting to get the people themselves to tell their stories.

“What we’ve unearthed so far are stories on everything from people being caught by their partners messaging exes on Facebook and the dilemma between whether you should link with bosses. What’s the line that should be drawn between work and life on these services?

“The professional dilemmas are quite interesting. In the old days if someone cancelled a meeting because they had a hangover they made an excuse and that was that. Today you could go into Facebook and find out what they were up to the night before and see the pictures!

“You could be trying to get a quotation from a supplier and if you’re exasperated you could go online and find them playing Scrabble on Facebook.”

To get the research rolling McCormack and Carey decided what better way to start research than to open a page on the Facebook site and get stories at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=18316098328.

McCormack has also set up a dedicated website for the project at www.poked.tv.

“In the course of our research we even found a couple who got engaged on Facebook and their marriage only lasted a few weeks.”

McCormack and fellow residents of the South Docklands area of Dublin used Facebook as a medium to decide on a name for their area and he says the SODO designation for the area was born on Facebook. “You could say the experience was the inspiration for the documentary.”

He says the team is currently in pre-production on a pilot and after raising funding aims to start filming in January. “We’ve had lots of interest in funding the project and if we get decent funding we’ll do it as a TV documentary, but otherwise we’ll make it into a digital film.”

The Facebook phenomenon that has swept the internet has found particular favour in Ireland where it is estimated that 154,180 people are registered with Facebook. Of these some 137,260 are aged between 18 and 35.

By John Kennedy