Saturday, June 16, 2007

FaceBook. The new web?

Web 2.0 and YouTube gave us "user-generated content". It is where we post our videos, audio, photos, text, blogs etc. online for everyone to see. 90% of everything is junk (maybe like this blog :).

The other 10% is funny, interesting, insightful, challenging, or whatever. Some later developments are new ways to play around with that content or host even new things that people didn't think of before. There are a million ways for example that we can interact with one another. Yahoo Pipes is all about processing news and information and delivering it to you through a kind of processing pipe.

is slightly different. You can inject content and pictures on a simple level, but you can also host embedded applications integrated with FaceBook. FaceBook is a bit like an existing portal on the web somewhere and then you can request your services to be integrated through this portal and use their API to interact with other services of FaceBook. If you consider "infra-structure", this is what FaceBook provides. You provide immediate business logic that is hopefully new to everyone.

Here are examples of this new kind of thing. The previos link shows the reasoning behind FaceBook, which sounds very interesting.

One of the last lines reads:
the Facebook Platform is primarily for use by either big companies, or venture-backed startups with the funding and capability to handle the slightly insane scale requirements.
Yes. If something is really successful and with the current efficiency of our social networking capabilities, "novelties" travel through our network at an insane speed. Not necessarily faster than general broadcasting, but there's also no filtering by a third party in the case of broadcasters. It could be that a 3rd party through other interests decides to downplay or diminish a certain event, which, when taken as "raw information" might be very important for everyone to know.

These snowball effects can increase load on any server farm in an instant. If you manage to get your company's link on CNN, BBC or Slashdot or any other large site, you'll certainly be sure of a lot of traffic instantly that may last for a day or two. If you consider social networking sites where people might actually return daily, if the services provided there are really good there is an exponential growth pattern and insane growth requirements. Just ordered that big iron? The next day you'll order 10 more. Whoops, your bandwidth is running out. Whoops, the firewall got attacked. One angry user just launched a bot-net attack on your servers.

Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure and lots of investment, instantly. And on the business side you need to keep things interesting, or the network will quickly drain out. What happens when another site comes up that offers similar services and something new that you didn't think off? Is there any sense of "loyalty"? You're not talking to individuals necessarily. It would be interesting to see how individuals behave as part of a social networking site. Do they exhibit more a kind of "flock" behaviour (they go where "the rest" goes?) or are their actions still based on individual decisions?

If we can recognize "flocking behaviour", this may be good when the business grows... but wow, it can be very bad for business if the flock heads the other way.. there is no stopping it!

Here is another interesting post on one of the facebook blogs:
There is a valuable lesson in all of this. There is a ton of money in developing platforms that make it easier for people to express themselves quickly and easily. Following this thread I can imagine the future value of virtual worlds such as second life where users can pick and choose everything down to their clothing, height, etc with the click of a button. Life is a story. Those applications (software as well as physical devices) that make it easier for people to share their story for others to watch unfold will be the ultimate winners when all is said and done.

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