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Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Discussion and idea swapping and socializing is and should be so much more than just liking something. The like function is going to just create more noise. It’s no where near as useful as a bookmark or hyperlinks.

Alas like so many innovations on the social web it’s just more naive data collection. Digging, checking in, liking, stumbling, retweeting…. Ugh.

Tagging, linking, and commenting at least encourage some creative effort.

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Facebook’s new releases and plans were the talk of the week In the tech industry (by the way, not the only industry that matters!). Probably for good reason. Facebook’s size and growth is very impressive and the service is obviously very useful to millions of people. However I’m not ready to proclaim them the most important tech business or even a fundamental component to the web.

Facebook is a collection of many existing ideas packaged better than anyone else has been able to do it. Even the new LIKE button is basically digg done in a friendly way. And yes it’s useful but not entirely life changing. Will it be as important as the hyperlink? Some ask that… I have no idea how to answer that but without hyperlinks the “like” thing and social web doesn’t work. So by that fact I’m inclined to say no.

Is analyzing the social graph for information a better approach than page rank based web search to help people get to the information they want? Not really, just different. Fb gives us new ways to find things but that doesn’t mean it displaces other methods. Last I checked Email, Im, web search, texting were still growing…

Is facebook as a single sign on service significant enough to be a can’t do without piece of the infrastructure? Not yet. If it were somehow to get into the enterprise and be integrated fundamentally into operating systems, then yes. I’m not sure for security reasons that fb can make that happen.

Forget all the technical discussion about fb, it’s the business model that ultimate limits fb. Its revenue model is dependent on advertising. There’s nothing in the history of advertising based businesses that suggests that fb can escape the limits of that model. Google is by far the most successful advertising based business ever created. Its growth is slowing and probably will top out at 50 billion in revenue. There simply isn’t enough advertising spend in the market to sustain growth passed that. New competitors and options constantly pull at ad budgets and keep the advertising world forever fragmented. (this is a highly simplified explanation but directionally correct).

Google has indicated the truth of this logic by launching into office software, mobile phones, cloud computing and other transactional / sell a good or service to a customer type businesses. Google recognized a long time ago that an ad only business was just not going to move them far into the future. Recently In the tech world apple has shown that their are billions more dollars that are more quickly earned by actually selling stuff to people.

So at some point fb will face a similar situation. Is everything fb is building setting itself up to one day be able to actually sell something to customers or will it forever rent eyeballs, clicks and likes? Fb’s one billion in revenue is awesome for a company so young. It will grow for the next 15 years… That sounds impressive… But it really isn’t that far into the future… And the next major advertising competition is probably already up and running…

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If been asked many times about the size of Facebook’s infrastructure.  Folks love to get a gauge of how much hardware/bandwidth is required to run high trafficked sites.

Here’s a recent report of the set up. Read the details there.  In short, 30,000 or so servers with tons of optimizations to networking, mysql, PHP, web server, and lots and lots of caching.

There’s an interesting point here.  30,000 servers to handle 300 million registers users and their 200 billion pageviews a month.  That puts about 7 million pageviews per server.   Almost every company I have worked with as WAY over built hardware and infrastructure.  I’ve seen people deploy new servers for every 100,000 pageviews per month.   Modern web servers and dbs, with the right set up, can handle far more load than most webmasters and IT folks realize.

One subtle point that’s hard to figure out from this data… the amount of compute/CPU time/power required to parse the metrics for this site.  Beyond serving the site up there’s a considerable amount of business intelligence to work through.  Logging and log parsing, without even the analysis part, has got to be a major effort not accounted for in these infrastructure details.

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This is genius.

Kudos to the editor who thought that one up.

I cannot begin to tell you the insight I gained from this.  Can you believe there are people that sit on Facebook all the time? Can you believe people would rather stare at their computer screen and leer at the human zoo that is social media than interact in the real world?

“Last Friday, I had three clients in my office with Facebook problems,” said Paula Pile, a marriage and family therapist in Greensboro, North Carolina. “It’s turned into a compulsion — a compulsion to dissociate from your real world and go live in the Facebook world

The funny thing is… remember when it was all about MySpace addiction and before that AOL Chatrooms.  I guess you know a company / media thang has jumped the shark when therapists are no longer accepting patients for an addiction with your brand associated with it.

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Check out what I just put out to the world:

Get some perspective

get some perspective with the social bucket list application, need perspective, on facebook.

This is really just a labor of love.  Life’s very short.  I have some 15,000 days left.  I plan to exhaust my bucket list.

Do you?

Perspective: Get some. Give some.

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All these publishers and platforms aren’t implementing FB Connect to help users, it’s to increase traffic.

Techcrunch asserts:

People may have IDs for the various blogging platforms or commenting systems, but most don’t identify with them. It is a necessary inconvenience. They identify with Facebook or their email because that is where they manage their personal and professional lives.

In addition to replicating the comments on your Facebook News feed, the JS-Kit implementation also supports embedding Facebook photos and YouTube videos directly into the comments. It makes commenting much more personal when you know your friends will see it in Facebook. It also has the potential to reduce the amount of comment trolling and general incivility that has taken over many blog comments (we hope).

I disagree with the notion here. Social networking, widgets, ShareThis, Buzz Up and all these single sign ons aren’t about personal identity, better comments, improving connectivity/making it personal or making it easier on the user.

No publisher would bother with FB Connect if it wasn’t going to increase activity.  Plain and simple.  As publisher you want to get into FB user base and you know that user base is active and going to dump this content everywhere.  Sure, eliminating the login is great, but really most these other services aren’t that challenging to a user who really wants to leave a comment.

Yes, it will increase traffic.  Facebook and Social network connectivity is the new SEO.

And just like SEO did for Google, so social connectivity will do for Facebook – FB is now the cornerstone of a whole lot of publishers traffic.

Anyhoo, nothing groundbreaking in the post.  Just wanted to point out something that might not be obvious about this land rush to see who can put Facebook Connect up first.

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Edge.com

Douglas Rushkoff
“Social Networks Are Like the Eye”
A Talk with Nicholas Christakis

I read with great interest – as usual – the Edge article by DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: “Social Networks are like the Eye” – A Talk with Nicholas Christakis.

Certainly no shortage of the point and counterpoint logic on anyone’s part. Rushkoff and Alda both working as part of several social networks themselves show a dismissive stance to marketing but are published in a most pristine record of ideas on the Internet where, despite their claims, they market their approaches. Good stuff for many but wait, what are they saying with all those not-so-grand illusions (‘living systems’ or subsystems of brain numbing metaphor piled on metaphor…) or mentalistic and romantic ideas of a ‘vis viva’ forces to establish value of their agendas over ‘others’ agendas.

YIKES! What’s going on?

Two things come out of all of this:

  1. Social networks are treated as a separate uber-case of behavior apart from other forms of behavior. It reminds me of how in the late 40’s and much of the 50’s the railroads treated themselves as an ‘industry’ rather than part of transportation.
  2. The metaphor is the medium. As such, they are contributing to the slow dilution of the very communication that they are so proud to expound on. Much of the article’s context is spent validating selected metaphors and not explaining how social networks work empirically.

Incased in the strategy being presented it was like I was being induced to look for a communication homunculus but instead was provided a drumming of the numbing anti-parsimonious meme concept of Dawkins. Raise you hand if ‘ideological components’ does wonders here in explaining social networks. Using a metaphor to support an analogy… to support another metaphor is hardly what Edge has built its reputation on.

“It’s the media shell that allows a media virus to spread through the mediaspace undetected, while it’s the memes inside that interpolate into our confused cultural code, forcing their replication.”

Doesn’t this sound a little like ‘vapor’ explanations that resurfaced in the 1850s from Aristotle’s ‘vapors’ theories as what was responsible for behavior? Aristotle and others that followed posited that there were ‘airs,’ just as there were different liquids and different solids that caused behavior. How are vapors that different than memes and metaphors that have nothing to do with people doing stuff?

To interrupt these authors, consider that social networks are based on interaction / access. No one cares about the brand of the camera, phone, or graininess of the content. For social networks to grow there needs to be content to access and the viewer needs to be able to respond. End of story. It defies predetermined categories of demographic gurus. Content gets acted on and in so doing lets the provider know what is of value. Hits and sends to others = important. No action = not important. Move on. Where are the virus – memes – biological systems metaphor required?

The question that begs to be answered is why are these metaphors necessary or used? Do they may provide some communication value leap-froging a more parsimonic or empirical resolution about social network etiology? For Edge it may come down to what was the objective of airing this set of monologues. While interesting, they are diversionary to understanding the subject matter in the title.

The world has more media options and combinations that move a message than ever before. Like reality TV it seems that every TV media exec has the secret and that one more reality show will be better than one less. As if each media exec has blinders on, they don’t get it that the form of media and the content carried live until the predictability and the exposure create habituation. This, along with competition for a viewer’s time, and things changing, variability occurs and gets selected and is the next big (valued) thing. Everyone gets to take credit for the next big thing because no one can show how to do it again. It is as old as game shows, westerns, crime soaps and variety shows.

Mr. Rushkoff asks “What is the cultural immune response related to MySpace or YouTube?” No one knows – which makes the talking heads cranky. But is there any question that there will be another episode change? Of course not. To use the idiom of the article, “if something has value, the code is picked up and carried, converted and re-sent via other shells elsewhere until its value has run its course to the end user.”

As content without a polarity, the media material exists in a vacuum and only becomes viral [and thus of ‘value] if it is attended to on the network… it was not ‘design specificity’ but the lack of specificity in the media channel that gives it value to network members.

Moving on, I was surprised at the vitriolic or at least pejorative tense of some of the assessment.

“Thus “viral marketing” was born. Meanwhile, visionaries interested in the possibilities for organismic awareness offered by mediated interconnectedness were lumped in with the fascists of earlier eras. Anything smacking of “meta-organism” reminded the intelligentsia of Hegel or, worse, Jung. Instead of looking — like scientists — at the incipient reorganization of civilization on a new dimensional level, they cringe like early readers of Le Bon’s The Crowd, incapable of seeing in collective organism anything but the tyranny of the masses.”

The nice thing about Edge.com is that it has an abundance of ‘intelligentsia’ all with identities that with little coxing evolve into priestly pontifications like that above scolding us for questioning the latest epoch of truth. In my experience, ‘scientists’ don’t need to yell. There data is what matters.

One last note on Ruchkoff’s primer on social networks; like artificial intelligence, Boolean logic and internet language code, there is a point where social networks will get absorbed into the fabric of life and the next generation of life without fanfare. We are observing an important yet fleeting data point that has meaning only if the data involved lead to other dynamic social activities. Ultimately none of this will be understood unless a less romantic strategy of study is applied to that behavior.

John H. Bryant

The Woodlands, TX USA

jbryant@CrossroadsAccess.com

4/4/08

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