Yet another blog post about Facebook

Has any company garnered as much attention in such a short-term as Facebook?  Yeah, you can suggest YouTube or Skype, but Facebook went from hot to scorching hot in the course of a few months.  Rupert Murdoch, the man who owns MySpace, showed some major envy when he suggested that his property wasn't the hottest on the web any more.  Sergey Brin is publicly speculating on whether they'd even accept being acquired (which essentially suggest that he'd be an interested buyer).  And just this week, they acquired Parakey along with key guys from Mozilla.  Man, that is one heck of a run.

Personally, I signed up a few weeks ago to see what all the fuss is about.  Instantly, I received a lot of "friend requests" from people all around Microsoft who are riding the Facebook wave.  From many people on my team to people I've met only a few times.  It was fun to laugh at people complaining about their cars or refrigerators.  Heck, I was fascinated to see where some people went to college or worked before Microsoft.  And true to its name, it did feel a little like looking at a live Facebook like the ones we used to have in high school and college.

On Monday, Alan Griver and I had an interesting discussion about what the future held for Facebook.  Personally, while I've enjoyed it, I didn't know whether it would "change my life forever".  I'd say blogging has changed my life in this respect as I have a continuous of my professional life (this blog) as well as my personal life (my Live Space) and even my journal as a baseball fan (http://fourthplacebirds.blogspot.com/).  But would I stay connected closely to Facebook?  Maybe.  Alan seems far more convinced.  He's a much more social person than I am (a "yellow", as he likes to describe himself) and perhaps this plays more into his personality.  He's using the mobile piece, twittering, biting people into zombies (if you don't know, don't ask), and joining groups left and right.  He raves about instances where knowing the inside info has helped him or a friend.  Now, maybe I am the curmudgeon in all of this, but in most cases, if I care what someone is doing or thinking, I'll ask.  I have ~20 friends at this point, which is fairly manageable.  But at some point, it'll get unruly, won't it?  Alan has 60+ friends and if they are each staying active, isn't that information overload?  It makes me think of the world's contradictions:  if we have all this diet food, why is the world fatter than ever?  Or if computers are supposed to make our lives easier, why are we chained to our laptops doing e-mail?  In this case, if we are already overloaded with e-mails, v-mails, IMs, etc., isn't Facebook & Twitter going to make things worse?  

My take: I think that answer is that if you use the technologies correctly, they can be very valuable.  It's like RSS.  Unless you are Scoble. you can't handle hundreds of RSS feeds a day--and frankly, that would defeat the purpose.  Ideally, you want the most relevant information pushed to you as it becomes avaialable.  I have ~50 RSS feeds, but on a given day, only 5-10 will be updated and that's a nice 10 minutes I read to get better informed on a few topics that are near and dear to me.  By the same token, I think there are probably a handful of friends that I'd like to stay in Facebook-like contact with.  For example, it'd be interesting for a development team to have a Facebook group as it's a useful mechanism to keep the flow of communication going (as well as get to know one another better).  I know I already subscribe to the blogs of everyone on my team to stay up-to-date on what they're thinking and I could see Facebook being an effective approach to achieving that.  And of course there are applications outside of business.  I spent last night selling the idea to my wife about how it would make for easier communication with the other mother's in setting up playdates or planning group events--at which time, she proceeded to waste two hours roaming all around Facebook looking for friends and old Stanford classmates, with the occasional outburst of "oh, check this person out..."  Yep, she's hooked.  Sorry Rupert, I guess you're right.  Everyone IS going to Facebook.

 Oh, and no, I didn't touch on the "Facebook as a platform" concept.  That's another blog post...