Why Facebook matters
In the post about whether Mark Zuckerberg is the world's more important twentysomething, the comments feature some good disagreement about whether Facebook really matters, or whether it'll be gone in 10 years, hopefully replaced by something that holds fewer embarrassing pictures from Gen-Y's college years. I'm going with "really matters." In his piece on Silicon Valley, Devin Friedman interviews a young tech entrepreneur who did a nice job explaining why:
"The big change, the big shift in the internet that's happened in the past three or four years, is the shift towards social being the most important thing," Angus says. "So now increasingly you discover content or care about content in the context of your friends. Up until now, Google's PageRank has been the dominant way that content gets sorted, ordered, and found on the internet. And the threat from Facebook is to say, 'wait, we're going to reorder the whole internet, all the content out there. And instead of it being based around some algorithm that a search engine says is important, we're going to base it around who you are, who your friends are, and what those people are interested in."
There are lots of factual questions that can't be answered through social search. I don't care what my friends think about the temperature of Jupiter's surface. But there are lots of questions -- and thus lots of searches, and lots of money -- where what your friends think, and the sites they visit and like, might matter a lot. "What digital camera should I buy?" for instance. Or, "Where's the most authentic Pho in the D.C. area?" And of course there are the questions we don't specifically ask, but that we nevertheless answer, by heading over to Facebook and seeing what our friends are linking to or talking about. That question is probably best expressed as, "What should I look at on the Internet right now?" and it's an important one.
The promise of social networks going forward is less about community and more about the ways large and disparate communities order information and drive attention. No one really knows how far they can go on either score, but I think it's safe to say that they might go a lot further than we'd have guessed three years ago. And Zuckerberg has done more than anyone else to push them there, though it's of course an open question whether some kid who just dropped out of college will unexpectedly snatch the industry away from him in the next few years.
| December 6, 2010; 4:02 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Who graduates, who votes and who's unemployed -- in one graph
Next: Why aren't the Democrats using reconciliation to pass the tax cuts?
Posted by: will12 | December 6, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: vagueofgodalming | December 6, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MPM1 | December 6, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MosBen | December 6, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mattnmiross | December 6, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JJenkins2 | December 6, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: will12 | December 6, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: stella12 | December 8, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse