The summer of Facebook

This is the summer of Facebook. The social network went from relative obscurity outside of college campuses to the next big thing, with a multi-billion dollar valuation and more than double number of users.

This is the summer of Facebook. The social network went from relative obscurity outside of college campuses to the next big thing, with a multi-billion dollar valuation and more than double number of users.

Some of my fellow travelers are questioning the (personal) role of social networks or suffering Facebook fatigue.

Jason Calacanis characterizes Facebook as a gesture bank, channeling Steve Gillmor, in which a social network feeds the need for people to receive and grant attention :

Facebook is a multilevel marketing platform where you agree to pay attention to people's gestures in the hopes that those people will pay-attention to your gestures in the future. It's a gesture bank.

I don't agree with the sterility of his description. People need attention--it's an implicit exchange that occurs in human interaction. For me Facebook isn't about the attention economy. It's much more prosaic--keeping track of friends and business contacts and using the social graph to interact with people in a more efficient way. The efficiency is in having Facebook as the central hub of activity. Instead of going to several sites to deal with events, groups, friends, messaging and other activities, it can all be viewed through the Facebook lens, walled garden and APIs--at least that is where it is heading.

Of course, poking, zombies and unwanted solicitations can be annoying, and Facebook fatigue, drowning in incoming data and requests, is a potential downside. The Facebook team will have to come up with ways beyond managing notifications and news feeds to give users more control over their Facebook experience.

Scoble provides insight into his Facebook usage and Rex Hammock has some good points in response to Jason's post.

Facebook is also creating controversy enterprises...and being banished. The Telegraph reports that Facebook and other social networking sites are being banned, Faceblocked, at firms such as Credit Suisse, Dresdner Kleinwort, Metropolitan Police, British Gas and Lloyds TSB in the UK.

My colleague Dennis Howlett covers Facebook in the enterprise conversation in depth in this blog post--Facebook infiltrating the enterprise: The ups and downs.

At this point, Facebook is in a honeymoon phase. It has momentum and mind share, and a growing population and demographic that is more attractive to advertisers than MySpace. For some of the millions of users, Facebook will be like a video game. You play it intensely for a while and then it fades away, rarely played again. Jason seems to be in that camp. He's played out now, but I'd bet he will be back soon, especially if he can find more ways to connect Facebook and Mahalo.

While it's a summer full of sunlight for Facebook now, we are at the beginning of the social Web. The 'winter' of Facebook looms somewhere out the future...

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