Tag Archives: Facebook

Google+: Everyone Seems to be Missing the Big Picture

Young people already having fun in "Hangout" the killer video app that will drive mass adoption to Google+

My introduction to Google+ was by way of watching  yesterday’s episode of TWiG, which featured Bradley Horowitz and Vic Gundotra, the two leaders of the Google+ project.

But what caught me,  got me really excited about Google+, happened in the minutes before the show actually started.  Leo jumped on a feature of Google+ called “Hangout,” an instant video conferencing application that is automatic, and which can include up to 10 people from your various “Social Circles.” What immediately jumped out at me was how FUN, spontaneous, and effortless it seemed (as well as being productive). You don’t have to place a call to someone or schedule a video chat. If you see someone “hanging” out you can just jump right in, sort of like the serendipity of jumping into a Twitter or Facebook conversation (known as dipping in and out of the “stream”).  But those are text,  and this is VIDEO, and that makes a big difference. Leo’s first friend who “popped” into his video hangout was Trey Ratcliffe, noted photographer, and for some reason, watching it, there was this surreal feeling that Trey (who happened to be in Chicago I believe) was actually inside the computer, like behind a cardboard cut-out, instead of being thousands of miles away. It made me think of all those hundreds of avatars I see each day on Twitter or Facebook, if they could suddenly come alive, instead of being frozen as they are in still photos. Suddenly the internet had “come to life,” as it were. A marvelous feeling. Among other things that are great about Google+, it seems more “alive” than the other social networks. More living, breathing. And “Hangout” is a big reason why.

Leo said it himself, almost spontaneously,  that Hangout was one of the coolest things he’d seen in a long time, and I agree.

The rest of Google+ is beautiful, engaging, and full of potential, but Hangouts is the killer app, I believe will drive mass adoption.

So the conversations around Google+ were inevitably “Will it kill Facebook? Will it Kill Twitter?”

That question remains to be seen, but I think folks nitpicking this feature compared to that feature, and on and on, are missing the BIG PICTURE.

The big picture is what Google is after, and I would argue has the most vision about, and the most resources to execute.

The Key here is that the Whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

If you take the individual pieces, you could say Twitter is better at what it does, Facebook is better, and Apple is better with it’s mobile OS. I think it’s fair to say that each of their individual pieces is better than the individual pieces of Google’s platform, albeit, just from one evening with Google+ it seems to be every bit as good as Facebook and perhaps better especially with the Hangout feature and the Social Circle feature, which makes it FUN to create lists. No one wants to create lists, but everyone likes to have them. And one more thing about creating “Circles” Did you notice how “Applely” it feels to drag so easily your contacts into the circles. It has the same feel as dragging things on OSX. A prime example of how an operating system can execute with the same feel as a desktop system. One little nudge in Chrome’s direction (Another piece of the puzzle)

But the key here is that Google has all the pieces. Think about it. Neither Twitter or Facebook has a mobile OS. Google does. Apple has an OS but doesn’t have a Social Network, nor the back end Cloud Syncing Data capabilities that Google has. This is why Apple and Twitter are having a “shotgun” wedding in iOS5 and why Microsoft is engaged with Facebook. But these types of “bolted” together arrangements rarely work. Two different companies, two different cultures. But still you get the point: These other companies don’t have all the pieces to bring together the new paradigm of the Web and Mobile being the new productivity platform. Google does have all the pieces. Their “jigsaw” puzzle type logo is now making more sense.

This isn’t just about a Social Network. This is about a platform of services that are tightly integrated.

What became clear to me last night is that this isn’t just about Google+ (as great a product as that is and will be), it’s about the fact that, with this launch Google has, in effect,  reduced or ‘highlighted’ Twitter and Facebook-type functions as mere applications, powerful and important as they are, within a much greater whole, but not platforms. In a sense, they are apps without a platform and Apple is a platform without an App. I know that sounds silly with what all the hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store, but what I mean is a data app, a cloud app, an app to Data Productivity Services that syncs all of your data immediately in the Cloud, as well as to a Social Network, which I am arguing is simply an “App” of this new Cloud Computing World. Apple Apps are wonderful, beautiful, but they are in a sense isolated islands.

Why is the Cloud so important and why is it considered the leading paradigm? The “Cloud,” as it were, marries the two most important aspects of the data revolution: Automation (Micro Electronic Revolution) + Distribution (The Telecommunications Revolution).  Light and Electrons. Electrons for storing and automating data, photons for delivering, communicating, distributing data. The Cloud is needed to leverage the exponential productivity gains that comes from combining these two separate technologies. Each separately have given us productivity gains as great or greater than even the Industrial Revolution. But together the productivity gains are even exponentially more so. One which both businesses, individuals, governments, and society alike find opportunity and achieve higher standards of living.

Apple is trying with iCloud, but does anyone actually think they have the ability to compete and execute on that front (or maybe I should say ‘back-end’) with all the Data Centers and Engineering expertise in the Cloud that Google does? I don’t. At all.

Last night Scoble scoffed, “Hangouts is kinda cool.” Kinda Cool? What? That’s it? No other company on the face of this Earth could emulate what it takes to make that product happen at scale. Facebook can’t simply copy that feature. They don’t have near the resources or engineering to do it. Not to mention Twitter. Apple has the cash, but I’d argue, it’s not in their DNA. Apple likes to sell things, not connect things. Cloud Computing is not their forte, their passion. They’ll endure it, but I don’t see the product or experience as being particularly promising.

But let’s not get bogged down by individual features. Let’s look at the big picture. Google is the only company that has all the pieces of the puzzle, and as they bring these pieces together, it will invoke a value proposition that users would be depriving themselves of if they didn’t join.

Think for a moment about what I said about Facebook not having a mobile OS. It’s simply an app on the OS that you have to open each time and load your photos manually.

With Android tied to Google+ all of these signals, including photo uploads happen automatically. And that’s just the Social Network aspect, the social signal: Automation.

Google has a plethora of other invaluable services, Maps, Gmail, Location, Search, Music, Video, Cloud back up, automatic effortless syncing, and on and on. And they’ll continue to add productivity and all the categories of apps that people find useful. And with an OS that is tightly integrated with those services, I don’t care how beautiful your hardware is, how beautiful the interface is (I love my iPhone by the way), I’d bet my bottom dollar even diehard iPhone users will think long and hard about what their next phone is going to be, and in a year or two their tablet as well. Google is building and connecting a platform that essentially is the most valuable “content” for mobile computing and experiences. Even when they get around to an iPhone app, the experience won’t be nearly as robust as if one were using it on an Android device.

From this vantage point, Twitter and Facebook are looking a lot like Lotus and Wordperfect did in the 80s. Even though Microsoft Office wasn’t as good when it first rolled out, it iterated and became “good enough” then as good and then better. And the momentum was the integration and trust that came from the suite being tied to the OS.

The same will happen for Chrome, Android, Google Services, and Google Productivity suites all driven by the powerful backend, unmatched backend of Data Centers, the Cloud, and their unmatched expertise in those areas.

Before, Google was the backend that needed Apple for distribution. Now with Bradley Horowitz designing a beautiful front end for Google’s interface they have their own distribution channel, and a way to bring all of their enormous resources to bare in the marketplace.

Is Twitter dead? Is Facebook dead? Or Apple? No, not by a longshot. All of these companies are run by innovative geniuses who are not going to spit out the bit like Myspace. This will be a horserace, and a damn good one, but if I were placing my bets today, I’d say Google will win by a nose at the wire. They’ve always had the best horse. And now they have a winning jockey.

But in the end, the essence of the web is not a zero sum game. One can imagine all of these companies growing, being prosperous, and what’s more important, imparting enormous benefit and productivity gaines to civilization, all without having to annihilate each other. I’d say Myspace went down for lack of vision, lack of focus. In other words, not because of Facebook, but because of themselves.

John Wooden used to say that he rarely scouted the competition, that instead he focused on he and his team competing with themselves to get better. Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Google all have this same drive and spirit. And what would be better than one defeating the other, is if they all constantly innovate, are “into” it, and in effect, all win.

Update: 7/2/11: I’m kind of angry. Today Tom Anderson wrote the following on G+, which is my same idea, yet it got an enormous headline on Techmeme via being copied in a post on Mashable. Kind of makes me mad, because I wrote this post on Thursday and sent it to Techmeme. On the one hand they must have put a small link to my post because I did get some traffic from techmeme, but nothing like a big headline they are giving Tom. Well, I guess that’s life. Tom is Somebody. But still, the idea is exactly the same as mine and yet they gave barely notice, but now that Tom said it, it’s the talk of the town, so to speak.

“Google+ seems like a “reaction” to Twitter/Facebook. But are you starting to see the ways that Google+ just makes Google a better, more integrated set of services? Google already has top-notch products in key categories–photos, videos, office productivity, blogs, Android, maps and (duh) search. Can you start to see/imagine what Google+ does for Gmail? Picassa? Youtube? Not to mention search? The +1 system that Google now has control of (unlike Facebook Likes) can really influence and change the nature of their search.

My original vision for MS was that everything got better when it was social–so I tried to build all the super popular things used on the web (blogs, music, classifieds, events, photos) on top of MySpace’s social layer. When Yahoo launched 360, MSN launched Spaces, and Google launched Okrut, I was shakin in my boots. But quickly I saw that it’s really hard to layer in social to features after the fact. At MySpace we had the luxury of having social first, and building the products on top of that layer. Then I choked and Facebook realized that vision. 😉

But Google+ really seems to be primed to make good on that original premise–that everything gets better when its social. And unlike FB, Twitter, or anyone else, Google already has the most advanced set of products. And if I can clearly see where this is headed, then I think what we are getting is a much better Google. Does that kill FB/Twitter? Who cares? I’d use all 3, but more importantly, I’ll be using Google products I never used, or use them in new, better ways I never used them before.

Oh yah and I love my Google TV :)”

Tom Anderson, Founder of Myspace in a post on G+ on 7/2/11

More interesting reading:

Gina Trapani – Smarterware.org – What Google+ Learned from Buzz and Wave

Google+ Everything You Need to Know – TechRadar.com

Finally Getting Google – BigEvidence – Thom Kennon

Ad Free Google Plus 50 – Chris Brogan

The Top Google+ Tips and Tricks – Ranker.com

Is Google Hangouts It’s Killer App? – Nytimes.com

Google+ Improves on Facebook – David Pogue Review for the NYtimes.com

Google+: The Complete Guide – Ben Parr for Mashable.com

10 Things CMO’s Need to Know About Google+ : Chris Brogan writing for Forbes.com

Google+ is the Social Backbone – Ed Dumbill – O’reilly Radar

Opinion: Facebook’s Growth Helps Google

Look Mom! I can open multiple tabs! I can use Facebook and Google!

So I’m listening to the Gillmor Gang yesterday and the topic of the moment is Google vs. Microsoft in the so called “Bing Sting” operation that allegedly caught Bing stealing or copying Google’s search results.

SNOOZE.

Scobleizer chimed in saying in effect this was a ploy to make Microsoft the enemy, a battle which he felt they could win, away from the real battle which is supposedly between Google and Facebook, a battle, which he and almost everyone else feels they can’t win. This meme has been going on for at least the past year and is growing more in intensity as each day passes.

I think it’s B.S.

  1. Firstly, Facebook is in a totally different business than Google. Facebook’s in the communication’s business. Google is in the automation business, the computation business, the indexing business. They’re strength is in applying automation to areas that most can benefit from engineering as opposed to human finesse. They are an automated “librarian” so to speak, bringing you the “book” you asked for with an ad for something similar to that book’s subject hanging over their shoulder.
  2. People say, well, all of Facebook’s traffic and attention is ad inventory that Google is losing. BS. All of Facebook’s attention has come through the value it has created. In other words, this is ad inventory that wouldn’t exist without them. You think Google, even if Facebook didn’t exist, would be fulfilling this market? Heck no. Social is not in their DNA. Engineering and Data are in their DNA. Nerd stuff. Stuff that is very valuable, like the self driving car, and the Street View product, but by definition is anti social. The kinds of people, nerd engineers, that build this stuff, are by definition, anti-social, or at least socially inept. They don’t have the feel or finesse for interaction with people or even for the user interface of humans with the TRON-like world.
  3. Also, people don’t search on Facebook. The only thing you can search for is people. You don’t search for the answers to questions like you do on Google. And then there’s the “Facebook’s a ‘Closed Garden’ shutting Google out” argument. Again, BS. Facebook exists inside a browser. If I see something on Facebook that interests me, that I want to find out more about, I simply open a new tab in my browser and Google it.In this sense, Facebook’s growth is helping to grow Google’s business. And Amazon’s (Gary Vee just tweeted and ‘facebooked’ about his new book with an Amazon link. So Facebook’s “walled Garden” didn’t prevent me from going there, did it?) and everyone else who is providing ‘value’ on the web. Companies that create real value help other companies that are also creating real value. I don’t think anyone would argue that Facebook and Google aren’t providing real value to society and to the economy.
  4. Think about it. What Facebook is doing is bringing the mainstream audience to the net. Every day more and more “normal” people from my past, folks who are not exactly computer or net geeks are ‘friending’ me on Facebook.  And these folks’ browsers aren’t locked into only being able to pull up Facebook. They can open another tab and search Google. They do, and they are.

Facebook still hasn’t and I don’t think ever will find a “magic bullet” way to monetize. That’s because it is closed, so search on the site itself doesn’t exist. But it will still make tons of money, simply through gigantic growth. Basically it is, or is becoming the network TV of the 1970s. And those guys made a lot of dough.

Facebook’s a great place for branded advertising. I can’t swear by this, but I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on a Facebook ad. And I’ve been a member since 2006. Although that doesn’t mean the ad impressions haven’t had any effect on me. And I’ve noticed also that the ads are becoming better and more relevant each day.

Also there’s a Farmer’s Insurance balloon in flying above my Farmville farm.

So Facebook’s attention is translating into profits albeit not as efficiently as Google’s monetization system, but that’s to be expected. They are different businesses. And people spend more time on Facebook than they do on Google (At least in search terms. Now, other Google products, Gmail, Docs, News, etc. would be a different story.)

So my argument would be. Facebook and Google are two different companies who are in two different markets. The only similarities being that you access them through your computer screen or mobile device. They don’t fight for attention. They compliment each other’s attention. Facebook is fulfilling the key role of “legitimizing” the web for the mass audience. In so doing, it’s bringing more people online, who otherwise wouldn’t be, folks who will fuel Google’s growth as well. Facebook is the content, the entertainment, the public square, and private party. Google is more of a utility in this metaphor. Not as glamorous, but it does help keep the party “warm” if you get my meaning.

What is Social Media?


Well it can be a lot of different things. Which is one reason it is so exciting and presumably so valuable.

From the point of view of a business or an individual who has their own personal website or blog, one thing that Social Media is, is advertising.

In the 90’s I owned and ran a retail furnishings store. We advertised mostly in the local newspaper and to some extent on local television and radio.

In the webspace, to a private website owner, the simplest way I can describe Social Media is that it is like new media’s version of the local paper. And your blog or website is like your ‘store’ if you will.

Simply put, social media is exposure, a way to extend your web presence to a larger audience with the scaling help of automation (electrons) and the virtues of the communications’ revolution itself (photons).

Translation: A little bit of intent and pushing a few buttons equals a ton of leverage and distribution.

You pay for this exposure, not with money, but with content. You and the rest of the network of members are providing the social media site its content, and in return it is providing you with exposure and extending your reach, along with a platform for making new connections.

On Google’s algorithmic, non-human network your website or business is passive, and the prospective customer, if you will, is active. Actively searching for something that you or some other site or business may have.

On the human, social network, you the business, website, or promoter, if you will, is the one being active. And the prospective consumer is in a passive mode, using the network as a river to dip in and out of, as entertainment, news, communication, emotional outlet, or just plain fun.

I think there is not only room, but a need for both types of networks, and that the rise of Facebook and Twitter doesn’t mean at all the demise of Google. There are times when we want our network to be flowing, serendipitous, and fun, and there are other times when we are in a more deliberative, utilitarian mode. We need (or want) answers, and we need them now.

Except with Social Media you are not selling your wares directly. You are indirectly selling your self as a real person, a genuine person with real interests. It’s a way to scale your ‘legitimacy.’ Trust is one of the biggest factors in making a sale. And social media is a way to scale the communication of your trust.

From a business standpoint or even just a human friendship standpoint, one’s activity in Social Media is comparable to the “Opening of the Sale” where the goal is to talk about anything except business. In sales this is what is known as the “Schmoozing” process. But before you start thinking how creepy it is to think in these terms, “Schmoozing” only really works if you are truly interested from a sincere standpoint in the subject you are “schmoozing” about. Any insincerity in this process, either in real life or in the venue of Social Media, and one would have been better not signing up for Twitter or any other such service.

So one way to look at Social Media, is as an advertising medium, a free way to extend your reach and your message. But in social media the message is your personality, your real point of view, and what you are selling is your integrity, your trust.

Let’s take one example that I remember coming up recently. Lisa Bettany (@MostlyLisa) is a professional photographer. She posts much of her work on Flickr, the most popular Photography Social Media site. She doesn’t post her work there with each caption screaming “Buy This Now Because I’m Great and I Need Money!” along with a Paypal link. She posts there because she loves photography and loves sharing her work and the tips behind her work with others. Such actions build trust and integrity. She feeds the site with its content. The popularity of the site feeds her with exposure.

She recently told the story of how this photo, which she posted on flickr over a year ago for no money, was recently purchased unexpectedly by Penguin, the book publisher, for use as the artwork for a book cover. Penguin only found the photo because it was on Flickr. They knew flickr to be the most popular photography sharing site. So they went there to search for the right potential content for their project. If the photo was only posted on her private website, it would not have been found. No transaction would have been made. So, the Social Network, in the virtual world, is like the Commons or Marketplace of a University or City in the ‘real’ World. It extended her personal work’s reach into the public sphere for consumption, enjoyment, and productivity.

That’s one example of the Social Network’s virtuous cycle. The users provide the content for free. And the network provides the user with free exposure.

This is just one thing that a Social Network is from the decided point of view of the business/website/blog owner, or anyone using the internet itself to scale a message.

Ads that you pay real money for are the ones for direct selling, talking about your product, its Features, Advantages, and Benefits.

Social Media is like hob nobbing at the Country Club or local Charity Fundraiser but without having to get into your monkey suit and drive down to the venue. Still, you need to be truthfully interested in that person you are chatting with, and really care about that charity you are raising ‘funds’ for, and not be in it just for you or the ‘sale.’

I think most would agree that’s a more fun way to live anyway.

Fail Whale: The Shadow Side of the Social Media Experience

Update Thursday Aug. 26th 2010As you can see I wrote this Sunday the 22nd the day after Leo’s blog post. I was a bit too negative and ranting. So I sat on it a few days. Read the always non- controversial Louis Gray’s piece that was also in response to Leo’s original piece Soaked it in. All in all, I’d rather have had Twitter and Facebook over the last few years than not. They are exciting in many ways. Facebook’s like rediscovering old friends. Twitter is new friends. There have been a lot of positive experiences. Still I’ll publish the original rant I felt and wrote Sunday pretty much unchanged, because going forward these negative issues are important and need to be addressed and kept in mind.

Original Post from Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Leo Laporte’s post yesterday “Buzz Kill” about how Google Buzz had failed him recently, and more importantly how Social Media had failed him in general, really got me thinking.

A) I totally agree with him. He nailed it. You should read the piece. We put all this energy into “Social Media” and what do we have to show for it? That information and energy goes into a vacuum, a black hole, if you will, and never comes back out again.

It’s our energy that’s creating the value in these networks, the content, and not only are we not compensated for our energy, we’re practically slapped in the face for it. “Who the heck are you, you pion with your 50 followers? You worthless piece of nothing loser! Why can’t you be more like Aplusk or John Mayer with their millions of followers or at least a porn star with their thousands? Yeah, you heard me, you’re not even worth what a porn star is worth in our eyes!”

Dial it down, Stephen. Dial it down! OK, I’ll meditate on it a few days before posting this, but isn’t that what Twitter, if not literally,  seems figuratively to be screaming at us all day long?

If they hadn’t had the followers number highlighted would the service have taken off? I don’t think so. So Twitter had to appeal to a lowest common denominator “High School Popularity Contest” mentality to, not only make it work, but for it to keep working.

When I first joined Twitter in early 2007 thanks to following early adopters like Leo and Scoble, I thought, “How cool is this? Even though no one in my small town knows about this, I can do all kinds of cools things.” I had always noticed how inspirational or ‘insightful” thoughts would come to me when I least expected them, usually when I was out somewhere in my car, at dinner with friends, etc. and now I could simply text such thoughts to my Twitter account and retrieve them later for expanding. Or if I simply wanted to remember something cool that I saw or heard while out. Just tweet and retrieve. A repository of my daily life, my existence, my continuum, my stream of consciousness.

But where are these insights, these things I wanted to remember, this digital outline of my life that I so dutifully recorded the last 3 years? Gone. I can’t retrieve them. I can’t search them. I can’t find them. And even though one hears that Twitter has been working on such a feature that will be released ‘sometime’ in the future, its like “Gee thanks Twitter, it’s my information, for God’s sakes. I don’t need it some time in the future. I need it now, and every day since I’ve been using your service, feeding your service, so that you could sell me out down the river to Microsoft and Google with your ‘firehose.’

If instead all of this info had flowed into my blog, it would still be there, searchable, mine, the true archive and repository that it was meant to be. Some will say, “Well that is the price you pay for ‘free'”

Oh yeah really? You know, I’m not the biggest fan of Ma.tt in the world, but look at WordPress.com. Totally free. Holds at least a thousand if not a million times more information than Twitter or Facebook, and it yours, you control it. You can put it in and you know you can always get it out. He’s not selling your information to third parties for his gain. He’s upselling (the freemium model) on additional features and using the popularity of the WordPress site and name to make a cut on Web Hosting purchases for those who choose to self host their wordpress blog. He’s Smith Barney. He’s making his money the ‘Old Fashioned’ way.

But look, this is not an attack on Twitter, per se. Facebook is 10x as bad. At least Twitter is semi part of the ‘Open Web.’ Facebook hides behind its wall, not because it wants to protect the privacy of its users, but because it wants to protect its monopoly at the expense of its users. You post a picture into Facebook, it ain’t comin out again. You post a video into a Facebook, not only is it not coming out again, you can’t even SHARE the damn thing with the internet. I mean, how evil is that? That is crazy evil. All the comments and exchanges and time you put into writing messages on the Twitter or Facebook platform? They’re not yours. They belong to these companies. And they can and do disappear at the drop of a hat.

Not to single out Twitter and Facebook. Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare, Flickr, (just go to Scoble’s Google Profile to see a list of every Web 2.0/Social Media company that’s every existed) just to name a few are all the same. ‘Evil’ gets thrown around a lot. That’s too strong. ‘Evil’ is Hitler. How about ‘Unethical’? More interested in building a brand, a critical mass or ‘network’ effect as they call it, ala the Zeitgeist of the ‘Start Up’ crowd, so they can have a profitable ‘exit’ and IPO rather than being ‘into’ it and wanting to build something cool to benefit the user him or herself.

Facebook’s Privacy Solution is So Simple

Instead of screwing with the granularity of your main page or account, confusing and aggravating the users, all that Facebook has to do is have two separate pages for each user: one completely private (except for those one chooses to be friends with), and the other completely open and connected to the open web. They already have this feature in “Pages.” All they have to do is tell people that this is your private page, and this other is your public page. To encourage users to create a public page, make the public page the only place that is searchable in Google or the open web. If only 10% of users choose to have a public page, you’ve got an automatic Twitter in one day. But to encourage even further adoption, innovate and iterate the public pages like crazy, and also tell the users, they must have a public page in order to search the public database. If the only way people can search and more importantly gain value from the Facebook public database, and the network effect that goes with it, is to have a public facing page, I can guarantee you 90% of users will adopt it.

What does this approach do?

  • It restores user trust. If you’re main account is completely locked down, not even searchable, you will also gain more users. My sister doesn’t belong to Facebook. She doesn’t trust it. Maybe it’s too late, but if trust were restored, she and millions of others, who don’t even consider Facebook and option, may join. But even if they don’t, you’ve restored trust in your main user base.
  • When users have a clear choice, they are going to contribute more value to the eco system. I recently heard Deepak Chopra quote, “A person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” This manipulation of users to “trick” them into sharing things in public, only makes them more reticent, if not in fact close their account, to share anything useful.
  • You’ve simplified things. Not all those “sliders” to give everyone a headache over their account settings. The main account is completely private except for friends. The public page is completely open. No frustration or headaches. The simplicity will make the value of the network effect and the eco-system, and possibly even the number of users, explode.

When Facebook aquired FriendFeed last year, I thought this was the approach they were going to take. Dead simple. Everyone would have their private account and then a separate public page that would essentially be FriendFeed, with all its value of search algorithms that I had thought simply nailed Social search, and would not only prove fruitful to a business model, but also provide even more value to the user. The perfect recipe for “win, win”, the exact recipe for applying Google’s search model to Social Search.

Instead, they seemed, and even more so now after F8, to move in the opposite direction. Screwing with everyone’s main account, violating that sacred trust that enabled them to get such a large user base in the first place, and what is more, doing nothing with “Pages.” And now it seems after F8, “Pages” are almost being discouraged in favor of the “Likes” implementation. I guess they figure that anyone with a public page already has a website, and instead, why not just encourage them to virtually turn that open page into a Facebook page with the “Likes” implementation? Sounds good. But what are the implications? What happens when I the individual user clicks the “Likes” button? Is all my information being shared with third parties? What happens when that gets out, and every headline across the country screams, “Don’t click the ‘Like’ button!” Turns what might have been a useful thing for not only the user, but also the Facebook brand, into a liability, not to mention simply just bad Karma.

I don’t know Marc Zuckerburg, or know what his values are. If they are indeed, “evil,” a term the industry labels a company that tries to make their money through manipulation, then I guess this post is like talking to a tree. For even if they do “Correct Course,” as Dana Boyd, Tim O’Reilly, John Battelle, and many other smart prognosticators predict they will do, does it matter? This is indeed one of the salutary effects of a free market: Consumer push back and the realization that the big money is in making the “right” choices, forces a company to change or be in danger of losing its business. In a true free market, what’s right for the company is aligned with what is right for the consumer. But still, if Facebook is the “it” company of the next decade, and only the market is forcing them to make the right choices, the internet won’t hold in its hands a very transcendent leader. “He who is forced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”

The internet and the communications revolution is truly a place of infinite possibilities, almost a metaphor itself for the “Quantum Effect,” which states that, even in a complete vacuum, even in complete nothingness, (which is not to be imagined as a patch of empty space, because in nothingness, even space doesn’t exist), the idea of symmetry must exist, and the slightest break in it, which must occur, leads to an explosion of infinite proportions.

I would argue that Facebook would be of greater value and in turn be capable of making even more money than they ever imagined, by doing it the old fashioned way: providing value, innovating, and being completely transparant. Good will translates into cash in all sectors of a truly free market, but even exponentially so in the freest of free markets, one where “choice” and “free will” is the highest value: the internet. The Communications Revolution.

What do you think?

Neither Twitter, Facebook, nor Apple Will Survive the Open Web

I was thinking about this subject tonight, that there is no way such closed systems as Twitter and Facebook can survive the force of the open Internet in the coming years with the price of data, storage, and bandwidth all marching toward near zero cost, much less be an Eco System or “Platform.”

As these communication and computation costs lower each
year, it will drive so much innovation, the walls will be torn down.

See, what is exactly the value proposition of a closed network such as Twitter or Facebook?

A) The Network Effect.

The Network Effect, or “Metcalfe’s Law” says that the value of a network equals the number of users it has squared. Obviously, the more users the more exponentially the value of said network increases. Facebook has 400million users. Twitter around 50million. You might think Facebooks network effect is tremendously greater than Twitters, but Facebook is a much more closed network. On average a typical user may have 100 “friends” or network connections. On Twitter you can connect to virtually anyone on the network simply by “following” them. It doesn’t have to be a reciprocal agreement. Everyone on the network is accessible to you. This means Twitter’s more open Network is of far greater value than Facebook’s larger but more closed Network. That’s why Facebook is in a tremendous frenzy to open their network more through “Pages” “Facebook Connect” and changing the default privacy settings.

So if Twitter’s vastly smaller, but vastly more open network has more Network Effect value what does that mean? The more open a “network” is, the more valuable that it is. This means there is an incentive to build a completely open network. So one will be built, or shall we say, not built, but merely “facilitated” because the act of building one implies some degree of closed. The completely open network already exists. It’s called the Internet.

We all know how many users and how much traffic Facebook has every month. They say its like an upward hockey stick. But how much value are Twitter and Facebook giving off each month?

And how much traffic and how many users does Internet, Inc. have?

Basically you trade your identity and your content for their network effect. Also they throw in their bandwidth, storage, and programming. As of now this has value, plenty of it and that’s why you see the spike in these “networks'” traffic.

But now the process of them selling you down the river begins. They figure they’re giving you network effect, bandwidth, and storage for free in exchange for them selling your content. Sounds fine, right?

But the problem is innovation will drill a hole into any walled garden. Quickly, innovation will fork around sand boxed networks and find ways to connect people without them giving up their identity or their content. Each day, storage and bandwidth prices drop. They are heading rapidly to zero. So that part of the economic proposition is losing weight very quickly as well.

Twitter isn’t the network. Facebook isn’t the network. The network is the network.

Even the mighty Apple, as much as I am blown away by this iPad I’m typing on, can’t survive this onslaught of the open web. For instance, tonight I was watching a TV show on the wonderful ABC app and it occurred to me that I was being forced to watch the commercial because I couldn’t minimize the browser. it felt Pavlovian to me, being trained by the nature of the device, forcing me to behave in a way I didn’t want or like.

I don’t think the user will put up with theses strategies for long, and I’m sure the open web will come to the rescue.

It also occurred to me tonight that Gmail keeps 5 years and 25,000 of my emails forever available and searchable and yet Twitter only let’s me go back and see a few weeks of my Tweets, with a substandard if not plain archaic search system.

That’s just plain lack of innovation. And Facebook is hardly better.

Technology, driven by innovation as it is, is a poor place for a lock in business model. Technology doesn’t want to be trapped, and will eventually fork around it’s captors.

Sent from my iPad