web 3.0 = facebook 2.0?

Google died on May 24, 2007.

Not Google the company, nor the stock, but the idea of Google as this unstoppable juggernaut of world internet domination.

Facebook opened up its platform to 3rd party developers- it moved from Facebook 1.0 to Facebook 2.0- and nothing has been quite the same since.
I am not sure if it’s the applications themselves, or just the fact that we have something new to share with eachother, but without a doubt we (the blogosphere?) have all adopted a new interface which is capturing more and more of our attention.

I like the way Pulver put it when he said that:

In LinkedIn, everything centers around establishing a connection. In Facebook, connecting is just the beginning. Facebook is all about community. And this can been seen by doing things like leaving messages on users’ walls, joining groups and having discussions, as well as some of the more social applications built for Facebook.

I tend to agree with this. While page views persist, and connections are being made in MySpace and LinkedIn and other networks, the only place where people are actually engaging socially in virtual real-time is within their Facebook feeds and profiles.

My friend Ted here in Mill Valley confided in me that “yeah, well I think I am now spending two hours a day on Facebook after having never used before a couple of months ago.”

I no longer Twitter.

Or Flickr so much.

Or del.icio.us anymore.

It gets harder and harder to maintain the heavy responsibility of a WordPress blog when I can communicate so quickly to specific social groups within Facebook.

My friend Pierre told he how much he enjoyed tracking my progress across the East Coast the past few weeks on Facebook, with status updates and pictures and video, even while I was feeling guilty about not properly blogging.

I still search with Google, and use it for email and docs and calendaring.

I wish that my Facebook inbox would talk with my buddy list and keep a record in my Gmail search, but I am willing to suffer through this lack of interoperability because the Facebook communication kit has become so vital to me (and so quickly for that matter).

A number of people have commented about how Facebook has enabled them to connect with long lost friends, who they are suddenly back in touch with in strangely, suddenly intimate ways.
It’s like StumbleUpon for people.

What if Web 3.0 is not about the “semantic web” or about any major revolution in natural language search?

What if, instead, Web 3.0 is really about moving from pagerank to peoplerank?

And what if the Facebook Newsfeed, opened up as it was in May to third party applications, marked the dawn of this next phase?

Netscape browsed the Web. Yahoo! organized it. Google searched it. And now Facebook has made it social.

What we actually want to do within this social platform is the big new question in Silicon Valley, where everybody is scurrying to figure out what are the Social OS equivalents of Word Processing and Spreadsheets.

Walls and pokes?

You can look at the fact that millions of people are turning their friends into zombies, spraying grafiti on others’ walls, getting super-poked, and sending “poop” at eachother as simply so much chatter.
Food Throws

Or you can look at these gestures as new forms of language, crude in their pronunciation but rich in meaning and intentionality.

I turned the page on Attention and the back of it reads: “Engagement.”

Focusing on banner CPMs and click-thru rates in this new medium is like focusing on the Television set as opposed to the shows.

Facebook users are more engaged with their media, in a truly social way, than anybody else. This is why my friend Rich Greenfield of Pali Research who is a *media* analyst on Wall Street is so f-ing excited about what is going on.

This is different than Google which is an accidental media company. Nancy Peretsman of Allen & Company told me how Google kept thinking they were a technology company until she (and no doubt others) revealed to them that they were in fact a media company.

I doubt Facebook needs this clarification.

The bear case on Facebook has become somewhat clear in recent weeks:

  • Advertising does not work
  • Few of the Applications that people are installing and spamming their friends with have any staying power
  • Facebook is throttling back the viral coefficiency of applications and offers no clear path to monetization
  • There are no barriers to exit for Facebook users, who will inevitably move to the next “cool” social network

Against this critique, the only legitimate responses are usage, engagement and responsiveness.

  • How many people are using Facebook applications?
  • How engaged are they in these activities?
  • How responsive are they to interact with 3rd parties (friends, friends of friends, marketers, etc)

Some of these metrics are available (for example usage of apps via our Appsaholic service) but the critical metrics on engagement and responsiveness are still to be determined. The early indications across a few million users in our Social Media network, however, suggest that users are interacting far more often with applications and are more than willing to interact with marketers, than the Facebook bears would lead you to believe.

More on this in the days to come.

11 thoughts on “web 3.0 = facebook 2.0?

  1. Pingback: David Henderson’s Blog » Blog Archive » SocialMedia and the next NEW MEDIA

  2. pretty darn lucid seth :)

    and i agree on the Google juggernaut being stopped in its tracks with the launch of Platform. i’ve spoken to more than one Googler who seemed to be wondering whether they were still the “it” girl anymore…

    re: user engagement metrics, definitely the next big thing. i posted a short piece on this a few weeks ago that was pretty raw, but hope to refine it a bit further in the near future. would love to get your take on it too.


    later gator,

    – dave mcclure

  3. Seth, awesome post. I couldn’t agree more with your thesis and am looking forward to the quantification of Facebook activity as a vehicle for measuring its efficacy. The platform WILL be monetized, rest assured. The best way of accomplishing this without adversely impacting the user experience, however, is still unclear. Looking forward to your continued thoughts on the topic.

  4. Pingback: Leathern.com » Facebook perspective from Seth Goldstein

  5. Seth,
    Great post, really lays out what the future potential of the web is. I hope in the coming months that we (the collective web community) figures out exactly what Facebook will do for the future and how it can be monetized in a meaningful way.


  6. Pingback: How To Make A Case Against Facebook | How To Split An Atom

  7. Great post!

    I’ll have to disagree when you say that facebook users have no barriers to exit. On the contrary, I think, out of all social networks, facebook is the hardest to leave behind. This is simply because: everyone is on it. The odds of finding all of your friends on a competing network are slim to none.

    Now, you could cite the shift from myspace to facebook as an example of how easy it is to have users migrate, but the reason a lot of people switched is due to the insanity that is myspace. Too many meaningless friends. Too many crazy profile layouts. And Spam Spam Spam.

    The main drawing point to facebook is the complexity of privacy options and because it was only available to college students. Without such hardcore privacy, reluctant users would not have taken the leap of faith to put their personal info online. And what high school senior doesn’t want to be part of the “exclusive social network?”

  8. Pingback: Language as Concealment « American Stranger

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