3.30.2009

On Facebook's Re-Design: Its About Formatting Data


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."

1 comment:

mschultz said...

I think your email analogy is on target, but the question is why?

I think you’re right, that they aren’t copying Twitter; IM has been around a long time, and it’s analogous. Is it because, as you’re saying, FB is recognizes that people, despite the protests, really do prefer having their information (status/pics/etc.) funneled into a serial, time-ordered stream that’s easy to consume? But if that’s true, why hasn’t FriendFeed grown faster? Too reliant on users to manually connect the pipes to the funnel for the info stream? Too much of a good thing?

Maybe streams are an oldster hold-over; merely an already understood information consumption rest-stop, while we slowly adapt and develop the ability to process information in parallel. Or not. :-)

BTW, I think programs like TweetDeck are gateway apps. Yes, it’s stream based, but to an outsider, it looks like you’re viewing the Matrix; in the not-to-distant future, even TweetDeck won’t be able to give you your info fix.