Social Wizz Reviews THE FACEBOOK EFFECT Part 1
THE FACEBOOK EFFECT is a page-turner and very easily one of the most vital books of our time as the company has quickly become second-nature to what a large majority of people do on the net. It’s gone from becoming a exercise in connecting, sharing and collaborating to something which underpins the social fabric of the internet to some extent (alongside a host of other social companies).
THE FACEBOOK EFFECT takes the users through the psyche of the company, the values which underpins the organization and has bought it to where it is now, how much it exactly can do right now as well as its long-term vision and most importantly, its impact on the everyday user.
Below is a series of excerpts from THE FACEBOOK EFFECT with my set of thoughts following it:
“Large-scale broadcast of information was formerly the province of electronic media-radio and television. But The Facebook Effect-in cases like Colombia or Iran-means ordinary individuals are initiating the broadcast. You don’t have to know anything special or have any particular skills. Twitter is another service with a more limited range of functions that can also enable powerful broadcasting over the Internet by any individual. It too has had significant political impact. This all maybe either be a constructive or destructive force. Facebook is giving individuals in societies across the world more power relative to social institutions, and that may well lead to disruptive changes”
We’ve started seeing some signs of this in countries like Egypt, Tunisia etc, however I would argue that it’s Facebook itself is just a utility and platform which has given voice to an underlying problem. I’ve mentioned this here before. However the ability for individuals to connect, share and spread information is ultimately something which Facebook has made seamless as well as causing disruptive changes.
“The best games take advantage of The Facebook Effect, and some games are played by as many as 50 Million members per month. PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Wii were the choices of the previous generation. Now however, all the video gaming consoles have built-in Facebook connectivity as well”
This is a sign of what I’ve called all along the “technological convergence”. All devices want to do everything and connect in multiple ways giving the user the most customized and personalized experience across a range of devices and systems. The gaming example is a great one in this instance.
“As Facebook grows and grows toward one billion members, one has to ask if there may not be a macro version of the Facebook Effect. Could it be a factor in helping bring together a world filled with political and religious strife and in the midst of environmental and economic breakdown? A communications system that includes people of all countries, all races, all religions could not be a bad thing, could it?”
Now this is a very very tough question to provide a clear cut answer to in my view simple because the world has yet to see this kind of global connectivity in history before. With the amount of “hate” groups on Facebook, it in some ways is disturbing to see the kind of hatred there is out there, but on the other hand, by allowing it to exist on Facebook, it makes what is already prevalent and existing all the more transparent which is the companies main aim. Is Facebook a reflection of what a Globalized world could look like? The benefit of a system like this is it allows users to learn the finer differences and nuances that are there in each culture which could lead to more appreciation and understanding of which different peoples ways of life, and why they do things in a certain manner and way which others may find “weird”? However without that understanding, it could lead to systematic cycle of more and more hate groups? With more Globalization occuring, is Facebook one of the more purer forms of what Globalization could look like? In an adverse effect, it also brings countries to be more fiercely localized too (again reflective in the groups on Facebook) as people strive to protect what is locally precious to them, and also convey that to others globally?
“Several of your friends learn from your status update, for example, that you’ll be at the mall later. You don’t send that information to them. Facebook’s software does. They say they’ll meet you there, and they show up. When Facebook is used as it was originally designed–to build better pathways for sharing between people who already know each other in the real world–it can have potent emotional power. It is a new sort of communications tool based on real relationships between individuals, and it enables fundamentally new sorts of interactions”.
It has also become a “competition” of sorts to an extent as people can have 90-5000 friends? Does that mean in the digital sense there is a difference between a “connection” and what is defined as a “friend”? I tend to ask people to add me on Facebook as a more commonality then most things these days (for example email address sharing or even phone number exchange) in the social sense. If someone you met at a night out clubbing is now your “friend” on Facebook-how does the depth of that “friendship” compare to what maybe a long-standing friendship?
“Trust on the internet depends on having identity fixed and known. If you have doubts about who you are communicating with online, your privacy is at risk. But if you know who is around you, you can authoritatively determine who you would and would not like to see your information”.
As someone who has seen the Internet evolve across 16 years, I can vouch with these advances happening in the Social space, anonymity on the internet is something which will be next to nothing in coming years. As more and more people authentically customized and personalized parts of the web in a serious nature and as it becomes more transparent, we’ll see less aliases and anonymous people. This does raise the ongoing question of privacy which we’ll be touching on shortly.
“During the early days of the World Wide Web, people sometimes said that everyone would eventually have their own home page. Now it’s happening but as part of a social network. Facebook connects those people to one another in ways that enable us to do entirely new things. But this scale, rate of growth and social penetration raises complicated social, political, regulatory and policy questions. How will Facebook alter user’s real-world interactions”?
I’ve always maintained that the exponential rate of change in this space is faster than any other form of media and communications we’ve seen in history. Questions around regulations, monitoring, surveillance have been raised many times and the positive and negative affects of these have arguments for and against both of which can form valid arguments either way. This kind of digital disruption (caused by many factors I should add NOT just Facebook) hasn’t been witnessed before on this scale though ultimately, it’s human behaviour which is driving it.
“Sleep was never a priority. If he wasn’t at the whiteboard he was hunched over the PC at his desk in the common room hypnotized by the screen”
You’ll find these traits in a lot of digital entrepreneurs and geeks. Whether it’s taking high-level meetings but sitting cross-legged on the ground or dressing in the most casual of attires. The 21st century “business geek” is a new breed of it’s own….
“We though it would be fun to make a feature that has no specific purpose….so mess around with it because you’re not getting an explanation from us. Much activity on Thefacebook from the beginning was driven by the hormones of young adults. It asked whether you were “interested in” men or women. In addition to giving you the option to list whether you were in a relationship, you were asked to fill in a section labeled “looking for”. One frequently chosen option was “Random Play”. When you poked someone, an indication of that simply showed up on their profile. That person could poke you back. For atleast some, the interaction had a distinctly sexual meaning”
As someone who does use the POKE feature often, to me it has multiple meanings. Sometimes its driven by a “wonder what the heck this person id doing, I don’t have time to message them to contact them formally but a POKE is an indication I’m thinking of them”. Sometimes it’s “DAYUM you’re HOT”, other times its “Hey I’m thinking of you, long time no chat” and other times its a definite expression of sexual chemistry….it really is a strange feature! At extremely busy times, a POKE is as simple as “hey I haven’t forgotten about you”…
“While the Facebook isn’t explicitly about bringing people together in romantic unions, there are plenty of other primal instincts evident at work here: an element of wanting to belong, a dash of vanity, a more than a little voyeurism”.
Again, with the amount of algorhithims, data and information has about people, I’m not surprised that the concept of “bringing people together” is something that crossed their minds. Most dating sites rely on a defined algorhithim based on the data and information provided by people to bring as close a match as possible in terms of WANTS, LOOKING FOR, LIKES, DISLIKES, TRAITS, DOS, DONTS etc. With the growing bank of data on Facebook as well as the launch of something like Yoke, this is an area I think which most Social Networks were driven by or have crossed paths with at some stage of their development whether it’s BEBO, Hi5 or Facebook. But this is an extremely complex and tricky field…
“Maximizing revenue by selling ads was less important to Zuckerberg than keeping users happy. He would allow advertisements but only on his terms”
I don’t blame him in the initial run…nothing should hinder the user experience.
“Thefacebook had a strong sexual undertone. You were asked to list your relationship status and whether you were interested in men or women. One of the site’s standard data fields were labeled “Looking for”. Possible answers included Dating, A Relationship, Random Play, And Whatever I can get. Flirting on Thefacebook became a sort of art for, though one feature-the poke-made doing so absurdly easy”
Again I raise the point that perhaps at it’s core, Thefacebook isn’t just the ultimate global connection engine, but also a far far more advanced liaison engine? The people we add (depending on their privacy but more on that later), we get to see their pics, their beliefs, their likes, their loves, their passions, their favorite books, movies, music, artists, as well as what they are doing in some cases real-time. Aside from all that, we get to see what events they are attending, who is in their family, what is most valuable and closest to them etc etc etc. It has evolved since then into a far more powerful tool for marketing and change but this is a common theme I’ve found among a number of social networks (aside from established dating sites and other sites which have morphed into a hybrid).
“People often think Mark Zuckerberg isn’t listening to them. He has a way of saying nothing and appearing uninterested. He does not offer the body language or nods or other conventional conversational signals that tells someone he is listening. However, that usually doesn’t mean he isn’t listening”
The next part goes into more depth in relation to privacy and my thoughts on where things are heading in relation to this hot topic as well as many more areas of globalization, growth and the future of where Facebook might be heading.
Prashant Harish Hari