So I finally gave in and joined Facebook 10 days ago. It’s quite well done and pretty addictive, although after the first few days of looking for people you know and being found by same, the excitement isn’t the same of course and there isn’t that much value to it. The fact that it does a bit of everything does lessen the barrier to entry for various things and so I have friends who use notes almost as a blog when they wouldn’t write a blog, update their status religiously when they wouldn’t use Twitter, post pictures when they wouldn’t post to Flickr, add and register for events when they wouldn’t look at Upcoming, etc.

It’s kind of an internal network effect, each feature gains from being around the others. Each features when it’s a lonely app isn’t interesting enough for some but when matched with the others is suddenly worth it. No need to find your friends again and again for every app, you just start using another feature or “install” an application within Facebook thanks to their API launched two weeks ago.

I’m not happy that that’s what’s happening from an “internet ecosystem” viewpoint because it’s just not healthy to have everything in one platform controlled by a somewhat evil set of terms of use but from a social aspect of using a virtual “public” space to stay connected and re-connect with friends, it’s effective as hell.

Two main reasons why I finally created an account; checking out the new API and how existing applications fit into it and, hearing people found old friends, thinking I might find people I’ve traveled with and with whom I’ve lost touch. The latter didn’t work all that much, the former is in progress, I’m impressed by everyhing that’s offered but I haven’t dived into the API itself yet.

A few things I’ve noted recently about Facebook.

Social Strategist has a good list of things written about Facebook followed bu some thoughts on the whole thing.

On Read Write Web:

Facebook launched “The Platform”, a system enabling 3rd party companies to integrate their services inside of Facebook user pages… About 70 companies have apps set up already (more on those below)… this platform goes beyond the ability to post media from outside into Facebook and it goes beyond the previous Facebook API (a read-only Application Programming Interface (API) released on August 15th, 2006, and at the time also called The Platform). With the new platform, outside companies are now being allowed to deploy advanced functionality inside the Facebook site.—Facebook Grows Up, An Analysis of Today’s News

Michael Geist:

The attempts to block Facebook or punish users for stating their opinions fails to appreciate that social network sites are simply the Internet generation’s equivalent of the town hall, the school cafeteria, or the workplace water cooler – the place where people come together to exchange both ideas and idle gossip… Attempts to block such activity are not only bound to fail, but they ultimately cut off decision makers, school officials, and community leaders from their communities. The answer does not lie in banning Facebook or the other emerging social media sites, but rather in facing up to Facebook fears and learning to use these new tools to engage and educate.—Facing Up To Facebook Fears

On Techcrunch (going over board):

The potential for Facebook to layer on any feature whose value increases with the participation of friends is an incredibly broad canvas for a portal. Moreover, as each new application gains acceptance, it enriches the overall value of the network and makes it incrementally more likely that the next application will be tried. Much of what we know as “Web 2.0″ will eventually be rebuilt on top of Facebook.—The New Portals: It’s the Bread, Not the Peanut Butter


Philippe K. Chrun June 5, 2007

Aye Patrick, ça te tente pas de venir développer un Facebook app pour MyCarpoolStation.com? Could be huge..

Patrick June 5, 2007

Sauf que je suis pas un dévelopeur/programmeur, sinon ça aurait pu être intéressant.

Philippe K. Chrun June 8, 2007

On bin putain! Ah well, if you know anyone, send them my way. On se revoit au Tech Breakfast, ciao

Alexandre June 9, 2007

As usual, very insightful.
My personal take on Fb is quite enthusiastic but not at all fanatic. I don’t think it’s the best SNS so far (compared with MySpace, LinkedIn, Linkup, LiveJournal, and even SixDegrees), in large part because of the internal network effect you describe but also the actual network effect of having really a lot of real, actual friends on there pretty quickly (although several of my very best friends aren’t there).
I think the buzz around Fb is, in fact, to Fb’s disservice. Although, since it was able to reinvent itself from a school-focused environment to “the SNS for everyone (who reads English),” it might be able to sustain this new bubble-like buzz.
The applications are exactly what you describe. Flixster, for instance, is exactly what I wanted Netflix to do. Not that I’ve really exchanged with friends about movies using Flixster, but the concept is very cool and the execution is quite decent.
Personally, I would prefer it if OpenID were to take over the world in making it easy to connect to different SNS, instead of Fb integrating everything under the sun. But, AFAICT, it’s possible to mash Fb up with other services, so it’s all good.

Thanks for a great post!

Patrick June 11, 2007

Thanks for the compliments.

OpenID is only a kind of single sign on where you can centralize your identity in one place. It’s only that though, no profile transfer or centralization and no relationship management (so no automated “re-friending” when creating an account on a new service).

It also doesn’t allow applications to connect together, might make it a tad simpler for you to add an app to another using the same sign on but it wouldn’t change anything to why Facebook opens their API the way they do and wouldn’t help decentralizing anything.

the milliner June 16, 2007

“I have friends who use notes almost as a blog when they wouldn’t write a blog, update their status religiously when they wouldn’t use Twitter, post pictures when they wouldn’t post to Flickr, add and register for events when they wouldn’t look at Upcoming, etc”

Hey that’s me! I remarked on this myself, and to be honest, I’m not really sure why I latched on to Facebook of all things. Perhaps it’s because everything is in one place. Dunno.

But I must admit that the whole evil terms of use does bring me very close to just not using the thing. I won’t post all my pictures or anything else I don’t want to ‘give away’. But, I have got in contact with several people I haven’t talked to for years. So for now, it keeps dragging me back in.

Marko June 29, 2007


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