Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What if Facebook Disappeared?

An interesting blog post posited this question, though the reasoning behind it was somewhat flawed. Facebook is not exactly the new AOL; people forget - and a lot of today's netizens weren't even old enough to remember - that AOL became the powerhouse it was at the time for one, very good, reason: it was the only thing available!

As regular readers know, I have lived in rural areas for much of my life and this was the case in 1993-94, when AOL first became available to me. The only other option, a local company in a nearby town, not only didn't come around for another 2-4 years, but cost $10-15 more per month and was literally a connection to the net and an e-mail account. AOL had chatrooms, featured content, Instant Messaging (yes, this was before even IM programs!), and more. I still have AOL 2.0 floppy disks (though they've been overwritten)!

Facebook is far from the only social network in town, and honestly, seeing as how it's been the talk of the intertubes for going on two years now, it speaks volumes that it just now outstripped AOL in U.S. traffic! I don't know anyone who uses AOL anymore - I take that back, I know a handful and they're all my age or older and have little idea WTF they are doing online outside of AOL, which is the only reason they're still paying $30/month for that piece of shit - and basically everybody I know has a FB account, even if they rarely use it.

The fact that Facebook is now the fourth largest site online and comprises a whopping 5% of the world's total Net usage is impressive, but not as impressive as some analysts seem to think. One of the things which separates me from those guys is that they think in nanoseconds - they think like the Internet runs - in fads and immediacy. What's paradoxical about this is the fact that they ballyhoo over every little change as it happens as though it is a precursor of things to come, while noting it has already happened before and means very little at the time...

Facebook is a social networking site, not a cloud computing desktop or storage center - it isn't even an e-mail account! If you have so much "data" collected on FB that losing your account would cripple you, then you are using it wrong!

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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