In his post All Dressed Up With Everywhere To Go JP posits the argument that Facebook is about the people and not the applications and that applications enrich the relationships, not the other way round. He is of course correct but at the same time maybe not totally correct - which is useful for this post.

What came first: the relationship or the conversation?

Relationships and conversation are in a tight symbiotic relationship. It is even a useful hypothesis that all relationships start with conversation (it may even be tautological). What, it seems to me, the applications within Facebook give you is a much richer language for conversation than we have seen previously. The role of applications in tying together blogging, twittering and other (now essentially one dimensional) conversational models onto one platform should not be underestimated.

So what did come first? The conversation! A conversation starts a relationship and also maintains a relationship. A conversation is rich and multi-dimensional and the applications framework captures a great deal of this. People came to Facebook maybe with existing relationships but may not have stayed without the rich conversations supported by the applications.