Posts about facebook

Each his own Davos

When I was at Davos (OK, I’m place-dropping), I sat in on a brainstorming about how to keep the connections we make there alive the rest of the year. It’s hard. Davos is a safe world: Those who are invited there with you are there for a reason and so it’s much easier to strike up a conversation and exchange a business card than it is down off the mountain. It was hard to figure out how to extend that.

But lately it has occurred to me that Facebook gives us each our own Davos. We have control over or identities and communities. We befriend people we know. We use it to make new connections. It feels remarkably similar. Just without the snow. And Bono.


Facebook was down for a few hours this morning. I was getting the FB DTs.

The writing’s on the wall

On the wall at the Guardianista group on Facebook, of which I am a proud member, Stephen Brook reports this:

I quote from today’s Evening Standard media diary: “An explanation for the Guardian’s new obsession with Facebook: editor Alan Rusbridger has just joined the social networking site. Rusbridger has acquired 18 friends, most of whom are inevitably Guardianistas. Elsewhere on Facebook, Guardian hacks have formed their own online group, where they have been grumbling about the paepr’s redesigned website. Guardian online chief Emily Bell replied: ‘I would bet my boots the NYT won’t have a Facebook page with their own employees describing their output as shite.’ Indeed.”

To which the Guardian’s director of digital content, Emily Bell, adds:

Evening Standard Gets Media Diary Stories from Facebook Wall

says it all really

All Facebook, all the time

To feed my Facebook obsession: the unofficial Facebook blog. (via Martin Stabe)

From the labs upstairs

Here’s son Jake’s latest Facebook app: Scratchpad.

Facebook of the powerful

The Guardian asks 10 media biggies why they joined Facebook and then writes an editorial about the importance of it all. Good, I’m not the only one going overboard.

Facebook: the platform of people?

Seth Goldstein writes an inspired post today about Facebook’s chances of becoming the platform for people. First, he sets the scene:

Meanwhile, the kids who treated their MySpace profile, and concomitant friend requests, with the same reckless abandon that we have done with our LinkedIn profiles, have now de-camped for Facebook. While I don’t have fresh data on hand to support this hunch, the well-sourced rumor I heard last week about MySpace scrambling feverishly to open their API’s reinforces what is becoming obvious: MySpace’s Kremlin-esque behavior towards 3rd party widget developers -“we buy them or we crush them!”- is on a crash course with the debauched dirty-dancing going on amidst the MySpace spring-breakers. As these kids move from junior high to high school, from high school to college, and from college to the work force, they are increasingly choosing the meritocratic social logic of Zuckerberg over MySpace’s “hot or not?” popularity contest

There can be little doubt now that Facebook is a platform for social media, as opposed to simply a web site community.

He then talksa bout what it takes to make a platform.

In 1999 I sat down with Brad Silverberg of Ignition VC who Microsoft recruited out of Borland in the early 90’s to become the lead developer and project manager of Windows 95. Never has there been a more valuable platform. He described 3 things that platforms needed to have:

* wide distribution
* application developers making money
* good tools

Let’s test those three axioms against the preeminent platform play of our time, Google:

* Wide distribution? YES
* Application developers making money? YES (if you count all the adsense publishers)
* Good tools? YES (all the adwords and adsense self-service goodness)

Now let’s test these axioms against Facebook:

* Wide distribution? YES
* Application developers making money? NO (at least not yet, I will comment on 3rd party Facebook developers such as Slide, Rockyou, and AttentionSoft)
* Good tools? YES

So, the question for establishing Facebook’s value as a platform is no longer whether Facebook itself can make money but whether its developers can do so. . . .

Nobody controls the web as a platform the way that Microsoft controlled the desktop. But certain parties do control enormous pools of user data and direct their behavior…API’s are fountains of data, mostly consumer meta data, that are the byproduct of some other functionality… The value of a web service API is tied to its ability to convert granular feeds of individual data into useful social media contexts. . . . Google does not offer this Social Media API. Facebook does.

That is the opportunity.

: A few more Facebook links:

* Mashable pits MySpace against Facebook, judging design, media, community, usefulness, and ease of use. Guess who wins.

* From a few days ago, Watchmojo tracks Facebook’s growth and says that 100 million users is not a question of whether but when.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg this week stated that the site was growing 3% per week, adding 150,000 users per day. Given the exponential nature of social networks, if the site is indeed growing 3% per week, and currently has 24M users, then by our calculation Facebook will have 100M users by February, 2008. Please note this is an exponential forecast: it calls for a 3% growth on the 3% growth… I also did less conservative forecasts etc., but for the sake of this post, this is for purposes of illustration and not an actual forecast that “Facebook WILL have 100M users, and it will by Feb 2008.”

They then go on to speculate on valuation. That’s anybody’s game.

* And I just started reading Inc. Magazine’s cover story on the Facebook that wasn’t, Friendster, and its founder, Jonathan Abrams.

It’s not easy being the brains behind one of the biggest disappointments in Internet history. Sure, there are those who describe you as a visionary, but in the same breath they’ll deride you as a lousy businessman. Bloggers attack you, call you “a real asshole” and “a very lucky idiot savant.” Former investors badmouth you. Other entrepreneurs copy your ideas without giving you credit. The New York Times makes reference to your “ballooning ego” and the local Fox affiliate can’t even get your name right.

Jonathan Abrams–founder of Friendster, the first online social network, and a pioneer of one of today’s hottest trends on the Web–tries his best not to think about these things.

Guardian column: Facebook’s genius

My Guardian column this week tries to dissect the genius of Facebook:

At Davos this year, a powerful newspaper publisher beseeched Mark Zuckerberg, the young founder of the hugely successful social network Facebook, for advice on how he could build and own his community. The famously laconic Zuckerberg replied “You can’t.”

Zuckerberg went on to explain that communities already exist and the question these magnates should ask instead is how they can help them to do what they want to do. Zuckerberg’s prescription was “elegant organisation”. That is what he brought to Harvard’s community when he started Facebook, then to more colleges, high schools and companies (including half the BBC, which has 10,000 friends, says its director of global news Richard Sambrook). And now it is open to the rest of us.

I finally joined Facebook and have become obsessed with Zuckerberg’s creation. Until last autumn, one could join only with a university “edu” address. As a professor, I finally got that. Once inside, though, it felt terribly lonely; I had no friends. But since Facebook opened up, a flood of fellow old cronies have joined. So I spent a weekend morning inviting people I knew to be my Facebook friends – which would mean that we could see each other’s pages and follow each other’s actions in the service – and what floored me was the speed with which they replied. In a day I had 150 friends. What’s notable about that is not that I’m liked but that these 150 people were on Facebook within a weekend. They, too, were addicted.

What is Facebook’s secret sauce? I think it starts with identity. On the otherwise anonymous and pseudonymous internet, this is a place where real identity matters: I use my name and I associate with people whom I actually know. Soon after I started, I got invitations from strangers and asked my blog readers about the etiquette of responding. I was told that, in school, one accepts all invitations, because you are all in the same institution and it’s rather like an arms race; school is, after all, a popularity contest. But we newcomer adults already seem to be developing a rule (borrowed from the similar business site LinkedIn) that we should befriend only those we know; it is an endorsement. So we are the masters of of our identities and our communities, which establishes trust. I think internet users have been yearning for such control.

Next, Facebook introduced what it calls a newsfeed, filled with simple updates about what your friends have done on the service: one posted a photo, another a video, two more befriended the same person, four others started using a feature. This was controversial when introduced – mainly because users were surprised by the change – but now it is popular, even essential. Zuckerberg says it is not news as we know it, but it has news value: if four friends I respect start using a program, that’s good enough reason for me to look at it. As one blogger said, this isn’t the wisdom of crowds but the wisdom of my crowd. It is like the talk around the cracker barrel in a frontier general store: the protonews of my small society.

Finally, a few weeks ago, Facebook turned itself into a platform. That is, it enables anyone to create applications on top of the service. Already there are scores of aps hooking up users’ information with other services such as calendars, maps, chat, music, news, shopping, and much more. Every media, entertainment and web company needs to figure out how Facebook can help their communities. It is not just about widgetising content – the latest web 2.0 fad – but about people doing things together.

Zuckerberg’s ambition for Facebook -which he has so far refused to sell, even though it is said he has been offered more than $1bn – is nothing less than for it to become the social operating system of the web, the Google of people. If the service opens up yet more – if it becomes the twine to tie together my lives online in my blog, my work, my town, YouTube, Flickr,, Amazon, eBay, Twitter, and more – then his ambition may be attainable. That would be elegant organisation indeed.