Part 2: The Key To Facebook's Success
Facebook didn’t invent real-world online profiles but it has been instrumental in driving a shift from an internet of imagined personas to one that directly reflects our real lives. This simple insight has been key to Facebook’s success and central to the development of the Internet over the past five years. Contrast the Facebook’s, Twitter’s and Foursquare’s of today with the MySpace’s and Second Life’s of recent history. The Internet is less and less a place to escape to – social networking only recently overtook porn as the key internet activity – and increasingly a very real part of our lives.
I remember being in a job interview, aged 23 or 24, and being asked what my favourite website was. As an aspiring digital marketer, this should have been a simple enough question. I used more websites than most back then, but most performed a particular function. Few held the integral place Twitter or Facebook currently do. I made a hash of the question, much to my embarrassment, but that moment stuck with me and left me wondering what the Internet really was.
The Internet is no longer simply a place we go, or something we use, but a massive real-time connection of people and things, a “digital shadow” on reality if you will. And privacy concerns aside, this development path shows no sign of abating. We are sharing more and more information about ourselves and our experiences. At last count, Facebook delivers 60 million status updates each day, roughly one for every eight of its 500 million members. Add to that the more in-depth blog posts, and the quasi-active data sharing from applications such as Nike+, WiFi-enabled scales and Google’s PowerMeter data explosion.
CES 2011 was awash with connected devices from GE, LG and Samsung. 2011 will likely see the first persistent-location mobile apps, tracking our location continuously rather than prompting us to “check in” to specific locations. All of these actions are generating an exponential rise in the amount of data sharing and the existence of “massive, passive” data sets: data created from everyday, low involvement actions. Although some way off, we are converging on a situation where our every waking hour is captured and analysed, and we all become sensors in a hugely developed internet.
– Oliver Snoddy, Director of Digital Services, Doremus NY
A snapshot of the "massive passive" from the GlobelWebIndex, which shows media consumption habits by geographic location.