So, just bouncing some thoughts out there after a healthy discussion with colleagues about the impetus for, and value in the Facebook re-design. Popular opinion is that the re-design was based on 1) "competing" with Twitter and/or 2) to make Facebook's Business Page offering more desirable as it now functions more like a "profile" and allows activity updates to be fed to Fan feeds.
These may both be secondary and tertiary reasons, but I think the re-design was largely based on the need to better structure and render Facebook data, to prep it for portability and interoperability. While standardized markup for identity, activity and relationships, and universal adoption of those standards, are still major works in progress, there seems to be a move toward how identity and graph data are rendered and consumed within applications. That Facebook's re-design looks like an attempt to"Twitterize" is not so much an issue of "competition" as it is Facebook recognizing that "activity streams" seem to be becoming a standard for rendering social context. If Facebook is going to be participatory in the open social Web where data portability becomes a norm, the social context that data portability ostensibly will provide will, I think, begin to appear in a standardized way. Think how email now appears in a standardize format...while different email providers may vary slightly in how email data appears (folders, filing systems), the overall appearance is mostly similar-- there is a standardized format for "inbox." Similarly, we are seeing a standardized format for activity streams, or more broadly, just what "social context" actually looks like. The future = a paradigm of "streams."
I have been very reluctant to blog about Skittlegate....too many voices reverberating in the echo chamber and enough so to make one head's spin. But after being called out a few times, I'd like to share just a few thoughts on why I think Skittles.com deserves more than simple dismissal as a failure....
I like Skittles.com-- not for the tactical execution but for challenging the notion of what it means to be a brand online, or what an online brand presence is or could be.
The Twitter echo chamber is crying "copy cat!" because Modernista already did something similar, but to focus on that is a red herring. It mattereth not that someone did something similar or "did it before." Its about the concept and pushing boundaries beyond our comfort zone. Should we not make branded YouTube channels because "its already been done"? (caveat, there are lots of reason to or not to build a branded YouTube channel, this was just for argument's sake)
Have we gotten so bristled that we relish in stamping out experimentation before it has a chance to evolve from its early sloppy, ugly stages?
Is Skittles.com all that novel or innovative? Does it follow all the tenets of “engaging in social media”? No. But frankly, that’s not the point. Getting us past our singular view of what it means to have a brand presence online is going be sloppy and ugly… but better to get our hands dirty than stay in one place.
I get it, I get all the reasons why it FAILS...but can we offer up solutions on what would make it WIN? Its easy (and lazy and sloppy) to find fault, but lets put this collective brain power to work on what could be, not what is wrong.
And yes, I am completely guilty of trashing experimentation. A while ago I wrongly lambasted Razorfish for their JC Penney Facebook Connect microsite. Do I now think the implementation/execution of that site was great? Not necessarily, but they were the first out of the gate to experiment with the exciting new FBC API and that alone deserves major kuddos.
The course of ego-infused criticism will not help us move forward. Challenging what we know, what we're used to is not always that fun. And yes, its going to be messy, ill-conceived and poorly executed at times. But what a wonderful chance we have with the Twitter community and beyond to use our collective intelligence to promote new ideas and constructive feedback that does not stifle or silence experimentation, but rather celebrates and guides it. What do you say?
Instead of boring you with pontificating over what Skittlegate means...I thought I'd share something a bit more universal. You know, it seems lately as though you're getting the weirdest Facebook friend requests, right? Its generally random people from high school or friends or friends...and well, your social graph is getting just plain WEIRD, right?
Jeremy Fuksa takes us on a little journey through the WTF friending land of Facebook. Enjoy! (hey, and maybe eat some Skittles while you're at it)
My Social Graph Is Getting Weird from Jeremy Fuksa:Creative Generalist on Vimeo.