Facebook: Colonising the interwebs one ‘Like’ at a time

Facebook's like button colonising the internet one like at a time

Facebook’s “Like” button. Does not look like much does it?

This little feature is one of the catalysts that propelled Facebook to verb-like (as in ‘I’ll Facebook him’) prominence on the internet today. Not convinced? Hear me out.

Sometime in 2008, many users were lamenting that Facebook was a “walled garden”, that it did not allow interaction beyond its monochromatic blue boarders. Conventional wisdom in the technology industry was that, and it stands true yet, that walled garden type technology will eventually see their users leave and seek greener pastures.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and his team were well aware of the problems that walled garden technologies present, but they did not seek to tear down those walls. Oh no, that was way too much trouble. Instead in Febuary 2009, they simply expanded those walls and invited the rest of the Web to come in and play.

They introduced the “Like” feature.

That was an ingenious move, from there onward, users will be interacting with Facebook even when you are not at Facebook.com. To web developers, this was a win-win. For years and years, they have wrecked their brains thinking up ways to make their content more “social”, fully knowing that it was a sure way to create traffic (comments on blog posts and web forums literally operate on this principle). Suddenly, they could potentially have the entire Facebook population within their reach. 190-million

Now, we all know that Facebook was not the first to create plug-ins like these. Yahoo, Twitter and Digg have tried, with only budging success. What makes the idea tick was the staggering growth of Facebook. It currently has 500 million users, and that number is growing at a faster and faster rate. If we were to look at a graph plotting Facebook’s user population anuclear chain reactiongainst time, it would resemble that of a nuclear chain reaction before reaching critical mass (Fig. 33.3).

One of the founding principles of Facebook was to be useful, and in this respect, they have fulfilled it through and through. Not only have they enabled web developers to extend their reach, they have also allowed themselves to easily track user preferences, which is key to advertising. It is their ability to sift out such win-wins that will surely drive the company to further success.

At the point of writing, Google is still the undisputed king of the internet search and information profiling. Google, the one that everyone turns to in order to make sense of diarrhea of information that is the internet. Will Facebook overtake Google in that respect? It is not unlikely, but it would take a lot of effort on Facebook’s part, but when they do, it would be with astonishing, even horrifying personal accuracy.

What Facebook has succeeded in doing thus far is priming itself to be as ubiquitous and essential as Google, which in itself is no mean feat. The world’s biggest social network won’t be going away, and you, the Facebook user, are going to see to that, one “Like” at a time.

This post was originally posted on tptptp.wordpress.com

So Facebook bought Instagram..

image

It’s old news now. Instagram is being bought over by Facebook for US$1 billion.

Instagram was the one app that, when it was only available on iPhone, I was jealous of my iPhone-using friends for. Needless to say, when it became available on Android, I joined the million who installed it on the first day.

Instagram’s draw for me emanated from the sharing platform, more than the camera itself. There are various apps (on both Android and iOS platforms) that surpass the Instagram camera, but none come even close to the simple, effective sharing interface.

While looking through the many beautiful photos on Instagram, it seemed me that there were many Instagram users who were unhappy that the owners of Instagram decided to accept Facebook’s offer. ‘You guys sold us out’ looked to be the echoing sentiment in that camp.

What.. Why?! I remember asking myself. I thought it was high time the makers of Instagram got the recognition that they deserved. After all, its beginnings were humble, and look where they are at now. Millions of photographers, many professional, have come together to share photos. It may be a stretch to say that the Instagram people have done photographers a service, but that is what I sincerely feel.

Now I see some Instagrammers complaining that Instagram is going to be ‘mainstream’ now. Well guess what, it has been mainstream for a good long time. Almost every iPhone user I know has it on their device, and we all know a good handful of iPhone users who are no different, I’m sure. If you need verification that there is conformity in deviance, look no further.

It is difficult to give up the feeling of ownership that one might have from being an early adopter, but this is a reality. Hell, would they turn down a offer that big from an investor that has a track record as good as Facebook’s?

On a side note, Facebook has assured users that Instagram will remain largely the same. Only the user pool, and consequently the photo pool, will increase. That’s good, no?