Facebook, again

I am amazed at the willingness of the Facebook aficionados such as Robert Scoble and Rodney Rumford (in reverse order of relevance and willingness simply because I do not feel like switching the names around) to engage in debate on its merits. If nothing else, such confidence and stunning open-mindedness is warping my views on the topic — albeit in a limited way, of course. 

Thanks for commenting on the facebook video. I tend to disagree with your points, which is cool.

You’re quite welcome, thank you for responding by the way, and oh… I think so too. I think I have done a poor job of truly expressing my views so far, and have come off spectacularly negative when hopeful would be a better description. More on that later.

“Most people do not keep an address book on their PCs” What is Outlook?

Outlook is not used by home users. It really missed its window for the home user: being a full aggregator of any and all address lists, calendars, contact information in general, et cetera, you catch my drift. List the services people actually use all the time that Outlook is spectacularly oblivious of. Yes, I know, 2007 is somewhat better in this regard, but where’s the “synchronize my address book with GMail” option? Where’s the “synchronize my contact list with Yahoo Messenger” option? It’s not there. And over time, I can tell you first-hand, people drift away. Thinking things over, I realized that I have already been locked in silos: I have my Messenger Contact list (as trimmed as it is, for obvious reasons), and my GMail address book. Just today, I went through all the different e-mail addresses in my GMail account to get a hold of my dad, because that’s the only place I keep his addresses. I have Outlook (2003, if you must know) installed on all 4 machines in my house, and nobody uses it.

In the comments for the video in question, Rodney elaborates somewhat:

Facebook apps are definitely for a niche within a niche. It just so happens that the facebook niche (32 million) happens to be a significantly large niche that continues to grow at a rate of 150,000 new users per day.

You are correct: If i ask 100 people about the platform possibly 1 or 2 will know about it. 5 days ago i was at circuit city and asked 4 people about it. 1 of them knew about facebook applications and thought it was cool and liked a few applications. These people were all in their 20’s.

I happen to be a believer in disruptive technologies that make peoples lives easier and/or more interesting: I believe facebook apps fall into that niche. It is ok to think i am totally wrong and missing the point. Thanks for commenting.

He very, very much has a point. Especially when you consider his full-fledged response, here. Let me go step by step here…

He (Sjoerd Verweij) does not think people will find applications useful. Hmmm. He used one (video is actually an application on the facebook platform) to discover content (from me) and used one to comment to me.

He proved my point that facebook is a new type of communication tool for me. He found my video on a facebook application, commented on a facebook application and I responded to him on the same facebook application.

I see his point, but at the same time truly feel he missed the point: me being on Facebook was about figuring out what Scoble‘s continuous hissy-fit about it was about. To reiterate at least part of my original point: I have three friends on Facebook at the moment. Scoble, Rodney Rumford and my wife (who followed me to Facebook to see what all the hubbub was about and returned with a decided “myeh“). Besides that, not a single soul that I know in real life has a Facebook account.

As for the remaining 3 points; you do not have to be tech savvy to find an application. Points of discovery for adding apps are everywhere (mini-feed, app directory, posted links, invites, notifications, search, friends profiles, news feed, email attachments, etc.). If an application is being used by your friends you will most likely be exposed to it without actually having to LOOK for it. If you can click “Add Application” you are tech savvy enough to add an app on facebook. ;)

Point well taken, but this assumes critical mass. Which I’m just not seeing.

People can actually search the application directory, so if they are looking specifically for an application that fills a specific need, they can find it based upon a keywords search query.

Search the application directory? Are you kidding me? Do you know what the most searched-for keyword on Google is? Yahoo. You’re operating on a different level. No, that’s not meant in a denigrating way. In a sense, we’re car mechanics debating the color of the Check Engine light. The average user doesn’t care. Why should they?

People do not have to pay for applications to use them. They are free to use (this may change as the value proposition becomes greater for more sophisticated applications). The business & revenue models that are under the hood for these are varied. Some apps are ad sponsored, some are meant to be branding efforts, some are meant to drive traffic back to their main sites off of facebook. Some are meant to pull entire site functionality into facebook.

This smells of Web Bubble 1.0. I see what you are saying, but the danger of going off the deep end is staggering.

The other thing about facebook is that is highly addictive and quite efficient. I do not “waste time” on facebook, my life is much to busy.

I don’t see the “addictive” part at all. You want to know addictive? In my formative days, a perfectly worthwhile college education was sacrificed on the altar of playing MUDs. That particular addiction faded for a while, but is here now stronger than ever. I know people who can only rarely find the time to even talk to people who are not in their world: World Of Warcraft. I’m not kidding: they spend more time talking to people in their guild than to people they know in real life. Anyway, saying “your life is much to [sic] busy” is spectacularly disingenuous. You make a living off of this platform. Scoble is making a living out of talking about it. For just about everybody else, the people you quiz in Best Buy, don’t you realize how much worse things are?  Scoble has called these applications attention diffusers, and I think he was more right in that post than even he knew.

Data wants to be set free and it will almost always find a way to be set free via technology. So, I like being part of the facebook niche, it helps me manage data of many types quite effectively. So is facebook a platform that nobody cares about? I think not.

Like I said: until “many” becomes “all”, none of this will truly fly. This technology is not disruptive, because it is repackaging. Internet time, which used to be leisure time, has been packaged up and claimed, one way or the other, since 1998 or so. Realize that you are playing a zero-sum game now. Facebook is shockingly close, but I feel still not getting the point: If you want to be a platform, be a platform. Import every single web application and relevant desktop application that has more than 1,000 users. You will rule the world. The first site to consume every single data source will win.

As a random aside, I posted an extremely gross but (I feel) still pertinent analogy, which for some reason rubbed Dare Obasanjo the wrong way in every single way one can be rubbed the wrong way possible. Which, of course, rubbed me the wrong way, leaving my (in this case, luckily) under-visited blog with a somewhat acrimonious exchange in its comments. Wait. Isn’t that the life-blood of any good blog? Woohoo! Someone came on my blog and talked shit! (As a random aside, I am henceforth taking a stand and ditching the “farkings”, the “doo-doo”s and all of their overly PC ilk. This is my party, and I will fucking swear if I want to).

There’s more I have to say about this, but it will have to wait.

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