Learning about Facebook

Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook

I watched the BBC documentary about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last night. It wasn’t especially enlightening. The story goes something like this;

  • Psychology major with computer science skills puts the Harvard facebook online (a facebook is a book of photos of students produced by each college)
  • It becomes really popular with students
  • Other local universities like MIT want to join in
  • Zuckerburg and mates think; “This could be big!”
  • They drop out of college and move to Silicon Valley
  • There are other social networking sites like MySpace, Bebo and Friendster but Zuckerburg’s focus on the psychology rather than the code pays off
  • Facebook becomes the social network that everyone uses

So why does everyone use Facebook? The simple answer – because everyone uses Facebook. There is no benefit in using a social network that isn’t used by your friends. I’m on Google+ but precious few others are. I like Google+ it has some really cool features but without the people it’s a waste of time.

Q: Why does everyone use Facebook? A: Because everyone uses Facebook.

When I first started using Facebook I really didn’t get it. Whenever I went to my page there was stuff that other people were doing – weird! Of course I soon understood the concept of the ‘wall’ – there was always something happening even if I hadn’t bothered sharing any content myself. Twitter takes the same approach – your ‘timeline’ is always being updated even if you don’t tweet much yourself.

When I ask people about Facebook their understanding of it in technical terms is very limited but at a user level it’s easy to use and the psychology of it is very clever. The simple ‘like’ button for example made it so much simpler to indicate personal preferences. Google adopted the same approach with search – the mainly white page with a single search box hid the complexity of Google’s complex technology. Clearly simplicity is key when you are going for world domination.

Until now I have always considered Facebook to be a mainly friends and family networking tool but maybe I should create a Designed for Learning page and see what it’s like to be a business on Facebook.

Please ‘like’ this post…to help further my research. ;-)

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