In the past few days, Facebook has rolled out what can only be described as a tsunami of changes to the service. From telling users what is important in their news feed (or whatever it’s called now) to providing a way to do a virtual scrapbook of your entire existence on planet earth through its new Timeline feature to the promise of apps that will help share content in “new and improved” ways, Facebook has just gotten a lot bigger.
We are being told that the focus is no longer on acquiring users. They currently sit at 800 million and the next time we hear anything about the total number of users the word will have the first letter of “b”. Whether you like Facebook or not, that is an impressive accomplishment.
Instead the focus is now turned to growing the users’ experience with the service. Facebook now has all the different parts of the rest of the social media mosaic integrated in Facebook’s distinct fashion. You can now slice and dice your friends in lists any way you want to. You have a Ticker that is somewhat Twitteresque in its presentation. You can subscribe to follow people who aren’t your “friends” but might be interesting to follow. You also can modify how you “Like” something as well, so hitting that button is less of an endorsement and more about the activity.
It’s a bunch of changes in a very short period. Whether it was competitive factors that led to this overhaul of the service, or some sense that Facebook as it was last week was not ready to conquer the future, I really don’t know. In reality, I don’t care.
I get that innovation and change are important, but today’s pace and the sheer degree of “normal” change is running too fast for most people. Despite that, I get the need for change and I respect Facebook for having that mindset.
What I don’t get is why they did so much right now. I am really beginning to wonder if I am “aged out” of this kind of activity. I say that because I can’t imagine learning all of the new “things” I can do with Facebook, let alone actually using them on a consistent basis. So I wonder, who are these super humans that these changes are aimed at. Is the younger generation so hung up on sharing everything with everyone at every moment that this will all make perfect sense to them?
What if Facebook is actually targeting a hyperactive super-user subset of their overall constituency, making these modifications based on this group that simply doesn’t know how to say no (and desperately wants to be cool) even if 95% of the rest of the planet doesn’t understand exactly what Facebook is trying to do. I don’t know.
So today, I sit and marvel at the pace of “innovation” that is occurring at Facebook. But I also wonder if that pace is going to end up helping the service or hindering it. Heck, to me Google+ now looks so basic that I want to go there and start over. It’s like a no electricity log cabin getaway compared to the sleek high-rise look and feel of the new Facebook.
I wonder if I will “come around” after seeing these new features in action and decide that these changes were aimed at me too, and not just at the geekified youngster who is so busy chronicling his life that he forgets to go out and live it.
Like I said, I get it and I don’t. What about you?