With Microsoft’s getting a piece of Facebook there is a lot of discussion about what this means. Charlene Li at Forrester Research says “Facebook really represents the new computing platform for this new age of computing and I think any social application that is written in the future is going to have to take into account the Facebook model”. So what exactly is Charlene saying here?
Is Facebook a “new computing platform for this new age of computing”? I hadn’t thought of it as that. It seemed to be a different interface that quickly allowed a connection to a number of people, already registered with the product, who I knew. It compacted a lot of information because the screen fonts though small where readable. And it had a lot of choice on how it would look and how it would work. Is it a new computing platform? No. It is just a nicely designed product that caught a wave of popularity and with this momentum has a large base of users that made it more relevant than other social networking systems. I wouldn’t call it a new computing platform, just a better refinement of how others could enhance your platform for you.
If you use Twitter and Facebook consider this question. What do you find easier to use, what do you use more, what defines social networking in your mind – Twitter or Facebook? Or are there other “new computing platforms” that ring truer to your sense of social networking?
Social networking, just by it’s name, is difficult to describe. It is 90% human communication and 10% technology ( I’ll leave you to adjust the percentages). Do I really care what the screen looks like as long as the result is what one feels comfortable with when using it? If it works, then it is used. If it doesn’t work for you for whatever reason you won’t use it. Twitter works. It connects me in real time to some of the most interesting people I know. It is simple. It is intriguing. Facebook does this in a different fashion, in a slower fashion, much more historic with social aspects defined by the various applications you choose. What it does for me is not the same as what Twitter does. Why? Because it only augments or tries to emulate what I as a person already experience daily in my non-computer life. When I sit across from someone and communicate I am experiencing who I am in the real human setting. This is reality. And all the factors and inputs that I have learned since birth are at work listening and communicating with this person. What they are saying, how they are saying it, what their body movement is, how their hands are moving, everything all your senses offer to establish human contact. Is this the same experience as Twitter or Facebook? No and it never can be. They are only partial facilities in our human connections. They work to a certain point. I think the best part of social networking is when you finally get to meet all these neat people in person. Knowing and realizing that event will someday happen makes these virtual places pretty amazing.