Facebook Facelift Doesn't Answer Social Net's Big Question - InformationWeek

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7/21/2008
04:48 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Facebook Facelift Doesn't Answer Social Net's Big Question

Facebook, that personal scrapbook you get to fill out on company time -- I'm joking; it's really a valuable business tool -- just got a facelift. Personally, I was impressed at its cleaner-looking home page, until my teenage daughter took one look at it and said: "Oh, they made it look more like MySpace."

Facebook, that personal scrapbook you get to fill out on company time -- I'm joking; it's really a valuable business tool -- just got a facelift. Personally, I was impressed at its cleaner-looking home page, until my teenage daughter took one look at it and said: "Oh, they made it look more like MySpace."The new design is being pushed wide today, but if you can't see it yet, go explicitly to new.facebook.com. Also, you can see the screen grab, below. (And hey, if you wanna "friend" me, and I know who you are by no more than six times removed, what the heck.)

Seriously, though, the fact that this "friend" come-on could just as easily be serious (it's a joke!) points up the lingering problem with the big social-networking sites. Which is that Facebook and LinkedIn really don't have much quantifiable value. Mostly there's the vague promise -- particularly with LinkedIn -- that someone out in the Web ether might recruit you for a hot new job. (Or, friends will start pinging you if they're "looking but not looking.")

SmallBizResource.com blogger Gayle Kesten astutely puts her finger on it by noting the sense that social networking is "part of this incredible Internet evolution that, even if not completely understood, should be embraced."

That's the way I feel, though perhaps to the Nth degree, in that early adoption is often its own reward. I've been a Facebook developer for some time now. Mostly, I've done simple apps which make RSS feeds accessible as Facebook-friendly lists of headlines and blurbs. (I'm hoping to build more ambitious apps, the only stumbling block being I need to figure out what people would actually like to look at on FB.)

I've also embraced Joomla as the next-generation in site-building tools, and have been playing around with it on my personal Web site.

I can't conclude a post about social nets without mentioning the one that's the lightest weight but the most fun. Of course, I'm talking about Twitter. Here, the debate is: What's the correct way to approach micro-blogging?

I'm not a fan of the let-it-all-hang-out approach popular among many Twitters.(As Kesten aptly put it: "Do I need to know someone I'm following just ate a turkey sandwich?")

Me, I try to confine my "tweets" (a term which makes it hard to explain this stuff to family members, or normal people anywhere) to tech-related nuggets, complaints about Starbucks (bring back the bold!), and shout-outs about my favorite new CDs.

Here's the final Zen paradox on all this stuff. Social networking may be pervasive and it may be lightweight. But, just like the way the planets were formed, the Facebooks of the online universe are getting denser by the day. Eventually, they'll suck everyone else in and take over. Which is why I'm signing off now to go do some more development.



The redesigned Facebook page. (Click picture to enlarge.)

Here are my Facebook apps:

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