1. Griffith Harsh: 1304

2. Joseph Perla: 1059

3. Melissa Swigert: 799

4. Olivia Hamilton: 776

5. Peter Bartlett: 769

6. Alissa Lorentz: 754

7. Andre Woody: 748

8. Brian Greeley: 743

9. Lily Cowles: 737

10. Eric Staley: 699

11. Michel Jabre: 689

12. Kyle Johnston: 688

13. Josh Weinstein: 678

14. Stuart Anderson: 676

15. Melissa Lerner: 623

16. Adam Tishman: 621

17. Alexander Krueger-Wyman: 604

18. Daniela Kende: 602

19. Erin Mesdag: 601

20. Charles Razook: 597

This past Sunday, three of the Nassau Weekly’s best-trained sabermetricians compiled data from Princeton Facebook in order to rank the graduating class of seniors in an objective and accurate manner according to a single metric: notoriety. This was not hard. No computer programs were required, although they might have helped. All the team had to do was log in to facebook.princeton.edu, run an Advanced Search for the class of 2009, and copy one piece of information from each of the 1,198 profiles: Profile Views.

The Profile Views statistic is one of three in the small “Stats” section of each Princeton student’s page; the other two, in the standard arrangement, are “Personal Friends” and “Friends of Friends.” Considering how few students cultivate friendships on Princeton Facebook—our sabermetricians reported that an average “heavy” senior user of Princeton Facebook had only around 30 to 40 friends—the Profile Views statistic is the only one with any significance.

Hardly anyone, to my knowledge, logs onto a person’s Princeton Facebook page with the intent of checking out their Profile Views. And yet, whenever a student checks someone’s page with a different aim, the statistic is there, presenting the user with his own behavior in concatenate; along with whatever information the user seeks (an individual’s likeness, hometown, secondary school, major, campus address), he finds how often others have done the same. (He cannot help this—there is no way to hide one’s own number of Profile Views or another’s. It’s not even listed among the pieces of information one can and cannot manage in Princeton Facebook’s privacy control panel.) This figure is recurrent, and current; it’s bolded, and it permanently accumulates. On Princeton Facebook, to want to learn is to learn how to want.

We might consider how this information differs from the more common generational metric of one’s popularity, the number of MySpace/Facebook friends. This has long been regarded as flawed, on account of the simplicity of its manipulation: a large number of friends represents only a large devotion to the accumulation of friends. With Profile Views, however, it is nearly impossible to jimmy the number. Of our Top Twenty Seniors, only one—Joseph Perla—got there by technical manipulation (his New Year’s Eve e-mail to pretty much the entire student body). Many Nass staffers predicted to our sabermetricians that it would be necessary to weight the results by number of friends, but that proved not to be the case; not only was significant friending extremely rare, but it never appeared responsible for bringing a person’s views over 100 or 200.

Profile Views differs from a friend count in more than its resistance to manipulation, however—it measures a one-way interaction, a “stalking.” Profile Views is almost as pure a metric for celebrity as possible. There are two students whose views are above 1,000, and 30 above 500; there are eight pages of names above 200, and 36 pages below. The great majority of the student population’s own Profile Views number is meaningless, to them and to others—but its very presence implies that this meaninglessness is a lack. An index of celebrity is given along with the most basic biographical information, in an official medium; it accumulates over time, as if four years at Princeton could be defined by socialization, and socialization were more like wealth than experience.

It’s something of a small abomination that this figure is provided on the bland, official Princeton Facebook, while the more dynamic, craven and corporate Facebook has had the good sense not to provide it. There doesn’t appear to be anyone to blame any longer. The site lists David Dean ’03 with its design, and lists the “managing student” as Clare Hunt ’05. (That makes her old enough to have been a Top Twenty Senior when this year’s Top Senior arrived.) Princeton Facebook is an old social network, in other words, and whoever is responsible for maintaining it does not care enough to claim credit.

We’ve only provided what one can find on Princeton Facebook in our Top Twenty, although any reader with street-sense will recognize that this list is dominated by Ivy members. This is, without doubt, largely a function of bicker mechanics; a friend without a regular Facebook profile told me that her Page Views shot up by about 200 while she bickered (successfully, bitchezz). The scrutiny from the other side is likely even more intense. It’s worth reminding everyone that less than one-fifth of a class bickers any particular club, just as less than one-fifth of the senior class has found themselves particularly interesting objects of attention. If membership in any particular club appears correlated to the kind of social attentiveness Princeton Facebook measures, let’s not forget what that kind is: an attention to a face or background. Insofar as the University has taken a stance on the utility of this sort of socialization, they might consider eliminating its most visible and official trace. —Conor Gannon