Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scoble and Andreessen on Facebook

Blogging got me into this world of social networking and Web 2.0. And it was Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's book, Naked Conversations, that convinced me blogging was a worthwhile endeavor. So, it shouldn't be surprising that those two and other bloggers are influencing me now as I entertain another phenomenon. Facebook has convinced me that we are on the vanguard of something really big, something far larger than blogging.

Facebook is poised, I think, to revolutionize how we use the Internet. One of the reasons I understood this intuitively was by the simplest of measures - how often in a week was I prepared to navigate to Facebook and possibly even update my profile, add an application, visit friends, post messages, or simply browse photo albums and events? Facebook proved its value within a couple days' use. I have been, almost without exception, returning to Facebook every day since I registered.

Then, I happened upon a video of the F8 launch keynote presentation from Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder. Watching that video, I began to realize how quickly Facebook had expanded its audience base to included old guys like me. Within a couple more days, I was reading about Facebook in the local newspaper. Within two weeks, 50 friends had accepted my invitation to join my friends list or had found me and extended the invitation to me. Just today, I began advertising events for our regional IT professional user group meetings on Facebook and extending invitations to IT friends within driving distance.

Other people seem to share my sense of excitement and anticipation. Robert Scoble, for example, pointed yesterday to one of the hottest Facebook applications, iLike, which is reportedly signing up 300,000 people per day. Marc Andreessen, the day before, posted an extensive analysis of the first three weeks since Facebook opened up its platform and APIs to developers.

They both reinforced the lesson that there is a huge difference between an application and a platform, something which ties in with Jared Diamond's insight that the history of technology is often about inventions applied in ways that were never anticipated by their initial inventors.

But the are definitely some gotchas. Andreessen has noticed a few key problems with the applications being developed. One is that success can kill 'ya - unless you have a server farm ready to scale immediately, releasing your killer app for Facebook could mean suicide. He notes some other things too, but take a look at his analysis for details (not to mention his great set of links on everything to do with Facebook).

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