The gradual reconnection of Facebook

posted by Jeff | Thursday, December 13, 2007, 10:40 AM | comments: 9

Allison, who worked for me most of the time I was in Medina doing the government cable TV thing, suddenly appeared on Facebook and added me as her first friend. Since leaving that job in 1999, she went on to get a masters degree, got married and had a child. And she lives in Las Vegas now!

Nerdy techie types now into their 30's are naturally using tools like Facebook, but for everyone else who didn't literally grow up with the Internet, it's a slow process. It's a little frustrating. Graduating from college in 1995, we saw the birth of the Web. The first commercial site I had ever seen (using Windows 3.1, a "Winsock" client to do TCP/IP, and Mosaic) was Zima.com. Because of that timing, only a few of us around that time really appreciated what was coming.

A lot of pundits feel that online social services trivialize human connections, but my experience has been so ridiculously opposite of that. 95% of my friends I met through some form of Internet media. I'm moving in with someone I met through an online dating service. I'm reconnecting with people I haven't seen in years. I'm keeping up with former volleyball kids that I otherwise would've lost track of. If I'm a typical case, the Internet has enriched people's lives more than we could have imagined.

My hope now is that Facebook doesn't screw it up. It has quickly become "the" place to maintain these contacts. It would suck if they did something really stupid and chased people away. Then again, even if they did, I wonder if people would be willing to leave those connections.


Comments

Neuski, December 13, 2007, 4:08 PM #

It's just a matter of time before Facebook really fucks up. The uproar over News Feed and then Beacon tells me that they they assume too much about their "improvements".

JRY13SP, December 13, 2007, 4:20 PM #

I'm not sure I agree. The thing is, even though Facebook has screwed up in the past, they always listen to the people and make the appropriate changes.

Facebook just subscribes to the "If you aren't living on the edge, then you aren't living" theory.

Neuski, December 13, 2007, 4:25 PM #

They screw up. People complain. They they fix.

That series of events is bound to lead to a screw up that people will not simply complain about. They'll jump ship.

draegs, December 13, 2007, 4:33 PM #

Is it me, or do Facebook's business decisions, approach to PR, and general attitude all seem like exactly what you would expect from a company run by a 23-year-old? I still say one of the smartest things Larry and Sergey did for Google was to bring in someone with experience (and age) to run the place.

CPLady, December 13, 2007, 4:37 PM #

There are already several of my friends on facebook who jumped ship with Beacon. Having been on facebook back when you could only have an account if you had an active/valid university email, I'm not sure I like some of the changes.

As for the internet itself, it has a lot of advantages, especially with connecting/re-connecting with friends old and new. There are people I would never have met if it weren't for the internet.

Having the advantage of working with one of the three Universities that were involved in getting the internet going, I was there from the beginning and it was amazing in the early days for those of us who were old enough to appreciate it.

Then there are those, like my son, who never knew life before the internet and I, for one, can see how online social services have changed the way people now deal with each other, and not always in a good way.

Neuski, December 13, 2007, 4:39 PM #

I'm agree completely James. They run it like I would run it.

"I like this feature and you better too because I'm awesome. Now... MOM! THE MEATLOAF! FUCK!"

Jeff, December 13, 2007, 4:40 PM #

I was just going to say the same thing. I'm not willing to write off his ability though because of his age. Zuckerburg is definitely no Larry and Sergey though. I think the desire to hire a CEO is driven by not wanting to deal with the finer details of business. Larry and Sergey likely have the bigger idea, just as Kevin Rose drives Digg and Revision3 despite hiring a CEO.

What I like about Zuckerburg is that he's found a way to foster a process that is beyond agile. They bring features and changes to market really, really fast.

JRY13SP, December 13, 2007, 4:44 PM #

Jeff's last sentence sums it up for me. They accept their mistakes and change them - and fast, too. They know what the bread and butter of their company is, and are willing to make the changes necessary to make it work.

Everyone hated the news feed when it started, yet I wonder how many people would want to go without it now. You've got to give Zuckerburg credit for being a visionary.

Neuski, December 13, 2007, 4:54 PM #

People hated the News Feed because of the lack of privacy, not just because it was a new feature.

I think Beacon is a really neat idea but it should have been obvious to the user what was/is happening and it should have been an "opt in" program.

I'm a big fan of their agile approach but their lack of research is going to bite them in the ass. How many times are people going to let them screw up?


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