Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Everywhere and nowhere

Interesting Economist article suggesting that social networking functionality will migrate from sites like Facebook and LinkedIn into our e-mail clients, calendars and address books — giving more opportunity for privacy-friendly design.

1 comment:

Martin said...

I wish I could work for someone like Forrester research, coming up with intangible generalities such as "will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be" would make my day just fly by.

I think this article gets close to making good points, but never quite gets there. It makes some, in my opinion, erroneous assumptions about what social networks are. It seems to place an overly important emphasis on the information contained within these networks and completely ignores the interfaces, strategies and, well, anything else associated with the websites.

Facebook works because, like Apple in many ways, it places user experience very high on its agenda. In the same way Apple restrict the software that runs on its systems to maintain a consistent user experience, so does Facebook.

I have long been of the opinion that social networks are mini-internets, that is to say that there is nothing that Facebook does that is revolutionary or novel except the interface it layers on top of its information. Photos can be done on Flickr, a personal profile on a personal website or blog, wall posts are essentially public email.

By tying these technologies together in a way in which people can actually use them, Facebook has finally allowed people to realise the power of the internet, not simply of social networks.

Why people would regress to using interfaces that didn't do the job in the first place and away from Facebook's experience is beyond me. The way I see it, as mobile web access spreads, Facebook becoming more central, not less, can you imagine what Facebook's UI developers would do with webmail? I'm salivating at the thought!