FaceBook

Why Facebook works for some and doesn’t work for others. A SocialMedia page.

I embrace FaceBook this year. Access to people > quality of tool.

Hmm, … I think that FaceBook really proves SideSystemsFirst is wrong, and that PlatformsFirst is right. Also, the merit of the OverHear system. If we are going to make a social software system to replace Facebook, it has to include everything that makes Facebook great- including the people..!

Lion, it seems the right focus changes over time. That maybe SideSystemsFirst was right back when you wrote that (back when blogs were big, and wiki sites were big, forums, etc). But, the pendulum has swung toward PlatformsFirst, perhaps? If it swings back again (if it even is a “pendulum”) maybe it will all look very different (especially given the drive toward mobile devices, etc). One really harsh action by a big player like facebook or google, releasing data to government, companies, or something else like that could drive people toward more decentralized systems.

I’m thinking of CommunityTiedToOneTechnology. I think that if we are going to have a different technical platform, it requires a community intent on using it. The draw of the community must be sufficiently strong. I am thinking I the intentional community efforts of the past and present and not of hobbyist efforts and social clubs.

Either that or a powerful commercial force like Facebook. Or a major obsession, like PonySquare?. Or something like tumblr, that attracts a demographic somehow.

I’d like to respectfully disagree with Lion. I really don’t believe that Facebook’s all-encompassing platform that does everything is the killer we currently imagine it to be.

If it were,

  1. I don’t think GooglePlus would have worked out. Yes Google had massive amounts of advertising, yes it was ridiculously easy to upgrade my GMail account to a G+ account. But actually, what made G+ compelling was not its world domination, it was just the willingness of 10 or so people I cared enough about, to jump in and start using it. That created sufficient value for me to stay engaged.
  2. Increasingly I find myself discussing on private Facebook groups. Once again, I’m on fB anyway, but my audience / community is in the 10s or 100s. I’m putting a lot of work into groups but I never think fBs billion members are going to see them.
  3. G+ Circles
  4. Quora, Pinterest, etc. etc.

My conclusion this year is that size is less important than ever. What’s important are small, interesting communities. I will go and stay where they are.

Yes, Facebook is, and always will be, my way to keep track of aunts and long out-of touch colleagues. But it’s far from what I want for the intense community interactions I have.

So I disagree that it’s the “platformness” that’s the most important thing. Increasingly I think the real story is that fB / twitter / G+ have pioneered some nice UI patterns.

In particular, the combination of a single page feed / river / recentchanges of the people you care about combined with an input box at the top to quickly post to those people. Blogs / RSS have always separated the enter-a-post view from the aggregator view, but the social media giants demonstrate that this is crucial.

They’ve also kept their UIs slick and up-to-date. So that you can post a link and have its content dynamically transcluded. Once again, all blogging software I know has fallen way behind this easy for forwarding ideas.

I like and will think more about the easy submission and updates on one page. Most other pieces I can’t connect with. For example, I dropped G+ because my interesting activity was on FB. People became interested in my work on FB, strangers and friends alike. (and on).

I think FB, like pretty much all non-wiki media, discourages an accretion of value/context over time. So, if you can get value from a low-context conversation, then FB can work. But if your goal is to grow a community of practice or something like that, then you’re kinda spinning your wheels.

You could mitigate this a bit by making the wiki your primary writing “place”, then copy/pasting to FB for discussion, with a link back to the wiki page. A big loss with that process is that WikiWords within the post would not be linked to those pages.

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