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theatlantic:

The Case for Facebook

Facebook just had modern history’s worst IPO and it’s down again today by some percentage that will be quoted endlessly.
Yet Facebook is still the world’s largest social media site with over 900 million users. And most importantly: Many of those people still visit the site each and every day, regardless of grumbling from cynics or short-term price fluctuations.
We’ve been hard on Facebook at times through the last year, particularly around issues ofprivacy. We will continue to report on them with the same rigor that we’ve maintained over the years. But as the company’s stock has fallen since its IPO, so many people are piling on with glee that I’ve become skeptical of my own skepticism about the company. It’s not so much that nearly a billion people can’t be wrong, but more that I know that I can be. (Especially when media sentiment is running so strongly in one direction.)
So, consider this the skeptic’s guide to the bull case for Facebook. Because, although you might not know it from the recent commentary, there is still a case for Facebook’s success and it is strong. 
Read more. [Image: Reuters]


Alexis Madrigal: contrarian techie FTW

theatlantic:

The Case for Facebook

Facebook just had modern history’s worst IPO and it’s down again today by some percentage that will be quoted endlessly.

Yet Facebook is still the world’s largest social media site with over 900 million users. And most importantly: Many of those people still visit the site each and every day, regardless of grumbling from cynics or short-term price fluctuations.

We’ve been hard on Facebook at times through the last year, particularly around issues ofprivacy. We will continue to report on them with the same rigor that we’ve maintained over the years. But as the company’s stock has fallen since its IPO, so many people are piling on with glee that I’ve become skeptical of my own skepticism about the company. It’s not so much that nearly a billion people can’t be wrong, but more that I know that I can be. (Especially when media sentiment is running so strongly in one direction.)

So, consider this the skeptic’s guide to the bull case for Facebook. Because, although you might not know it from the recent commentary, there is still a case for Facebook’s success and it is strong. 

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Alexis Madrigal: contrarian techie FTW

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theatlantic:

How Google Can Beat Facebook Without Google Plus

Last year, Google, which had dabbled in official social-networking applications, released Google Plus. The site has all the things you’ve come to expect in a social network. There is a rich profile builder, a place for your photos, a nice videochat feature, a conversation feed, and, of course, “Circles,” which allow users to sort the people they know into different buckets. Word at the time was that Google’s full weight was behind this social push. The journalists who knew the company’s insiders best declared that Facebook was CEO Larry Page’s obsession.
I was bullish about Google Plus, even if it did feel like a Facebook clone. Google had built out a ton of infrastructure and was pushing Plus out through its major products. This had to be big!
But by most accounts and third-party research, the service is growing its number of users but not their engagement. People are “on” Google Plus, but they are not really ON Google Plus. The infrastructure is there. The street signs are there. People own plots of land. But there’s nobody actually visiting town.
Read more. [Image: Alexis Madrigal]


"Essentially, Google built a social "spine" for their services without building a service that developed into a compelling social offering. There is no meat on the social bone because Google thought of building a social network not as a means for you to connect with friends but as a means for you to connect with Google."
But what if Google is my best friend?!

theatlantic:

How Google Can Beat Facebook Without Google Plus

Last year, Google, which had dabbled in official social-networking applications, released Google Plus. The site has all the things you’ve come to expect in a social network. There is a rich profile builder, a place for your photos, a nice videochat feature, a conversation feed, and, of course, “Circles,” which allow users to sort the people they know into different buckets. Word at the time was that Google’s full weight was behind this social push. The journalists who knew the company’s insiders best declared that Facebook was CEO Larry Page’s obsession.

I was bullish about Google Plus, even if it did feel like a Facebook clone. Google had built out a ton of infrastructure and was pushing Plus out through its major products. This had to be big!

But by most accounts and third-party research, the service is growing its number of users but not their engagement. People are “on” Google Plus, but they are not really ON Google Plus. The infrastructure is there. The street signs are there. People own plots of land. But there’s nobody actually visiting town.

Read more. [Image: Alexis Madrigal]

"Essentially, Google built a social "spine" for their services without building a service that developed into a compelling social offering. There is no meat on the social bone because Google thought of building a social network not as a means for you to connect with friends but as a means for you to connect with Google."

But what if Google is my best friend?!

Quote
"Over time, I found my eyes drifting to tweets from folks with the lowest Klout scores. They talked about things nobody else was talking about. Sitcoms in Haiti. Quirky museum exhibits. Strange movie-theater lobby cards from the 1970s. The un-Kloutiest’s thoughts, jokes, and bubbles of honest emotion felt rawer, more authentic, and blissfully oblivious to the herd. Like unloved TV shows, these people had low Nielsen ratings—no brand would ever bother to advertise on their channels. And yet, these were the people I paid the most attention to. They were unique and genuine. That may not matter to marketers, and it may not win them much Klout. But it makes them a lot more interesting."

Seth Stevenson, What Your Klout Score Really Means - Wired

I still want mine to go up. Oh, vanity. When will you learn?

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"A considerable part of Facebook’s appeal stems from its miraculous fusion of distance with intimacy, or the illusion of distance with the illusion of intimacy. Our online communities become engines of self-image, and self-image becomes the engine of community. The real danger with Facebook is not that it allows us to isolate ourselves, but that by mixing our appetite for isolation with our vanity, it threatens to alter the very nature of solitude. The new isolation is not of the kind that Americans once idealized, the lonesomeness of the proudly nonconformist, independent-minded, solitary stoic, or that of the astronaut who blasts into new worlds. Facebook’s isolation is a grind. What’s truly staggering about Facebook usage is not its volume—750 million photographs uploaded over a single weekend—but the constancy of the performance it demands. More than half its users—and one of every 13 people on Earth is a Facebook user—log on every day. Among 18-to-34-year-olds, nearly half check Facebook minutes after waking up, and 28 percent do so before getting out of bed. The relentlessness is what is so new, so potentially transformative. Facebook never takes a break. We never take a break. Human beings have always created elaborate acts of self-presentation. But not all the time, not every morning, before we even pour a cup of coffee."

— Stephen Marche, Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? - The Atlantic

Link

Nick, I love you, but this sounds a tad disingenuous.

Yes, you supply all the content, but you get the social situation that the network enables. Sure, it’d be nice to get more. Heck, I’d love an extra $50 (and presumably a yearly payment based on however much the company makes in ads), but that’s unrealistic to ask. Just as it would be unrealistic to ask for the cafe you mention in your article to give me a percent of their profit. Yeah, the food was good, but if a tech company is expected to give a customer more, why shouldn’t one in the food industry?

Also, about that cafe, it actually does benefit from the “information” that its customers “provide.” I put those words in quotes because the information isn’t processed and provided in the same way as it is on social networks, but it is certainly part of the business. When I stroll past that cafe and see it filled with upper-middle class patrons, I identify the business, however unconsciously (and problematically), as one worthy of my expendable income. By frequenting that cafe, those patrons aren’t just helping it by paying for food; they’re also endowing it with their social capital. The only thing different with social networks is that people (mostly consciously) give those networks that same capital (usually through a much more explicit way), and the networks are intelligently designed to best take advantage of said capital.

Speaking of capital, let’s pull this in a more Marxist direction, as I am worried about this ancillary point that Bilton raises: “Those without the skills needed in this new economy — other than to tweet and post pictures — can fall further behind economically.” My gut says this is a more structural economic issue than one that can be solved with a simple attack on a singular company (or even type of company). But in spite of that, I’m not sure what a solution would be. Other than socialism, which as a capitalist, I’m not a big fan of.

Link

Although I kind of agree with the conclusion (Tumblr is far cooler at this point), and I kind of like the now-that-it’s-gone-public-it’s-lame rationale, I completely disagree with some of its premises.

  1. "The generation which en masse hasn’t created anything worth noting except for debts on their parents credits cards. Anything, but Facebook.” This statement is two-fold ignorant. On the one hand, it pretends that Facebook isn’t a bit of a revolutionary creation that helped alter the way we use the Internet—pushing it from the searchable web to the social web. And on the other, could you please tell me what generation actually achieved anything substantial en masse when its prime constituents were in their twenties? (And, ya know, Facebook itself is somewhat substantial, see above, which means the millennials are kinda kicking Gen X to the curb on this point.) By the author’s own globalizing-based-solely-on-pop-culture-references logic, all Gen X ever did in their twenties was smoke pot and sing about conjunction junction.
  2. The article is riddled with instances of out-of-touch-ness (e.g., thinking that the only appropriate thing to wear to work is a suit and tie, referring to the “like” button as the “‘I like’ button,” and if I want to really be nitpicky, calling millennials “Gen Y’ers”). I dunno, it’s just weird to have someone so obviously not “with it,” so not “cool” trying to weigh in on a topic on which he is clearly not an expert. (Editorial Note: I openly own up to my not-cool-ness, which is why I normally don’t try to make statements on what is and isn’t cool and why I find it so odd when people who are more or less in my position cool-wise for some reason do.)
Quote
"Is it cheating? Let he who is without sin cast the first +1. We’ve all tweeted to someone above our station or hearted the Instagram pic of someone with 10,000 followers, hoping in a secret place in our cyborg soul that the object of our affection will reward us with a wink or a link."

Mary H. K. Choi, “The Art of Sidling” - Wired

Yup, this is just a “Thing People Do” now.

Quote
"The Facebook, Google+, and Path networks liken online interaction to shouting in different-sized movie theaters, each of which contains a different combination of close friends, family members, and acquaintances. Most people in the movie theater aren’t even listening, others listen but ignore, and an even smaller group reacts to what’s being said."

Patrick Moorhead, Mashable: Why Social Media Needs to Get More Personal

I like this analogy, but the rest of the article seems underdeveloped. Don’t social media inherently enable an approximation of “real life” reality? Isn’t the burden to make it more personal on the user, not the platform? Aren’t the tools suggested already available on certain social media platforms (namely, Facebook)? Plus, I take issue with the notion that text messages and emails are something completely separate from the social media sphere, when both Twitter and Facebook offer versions of those. (No, I’m not suggesting that text messaging is social media, per se, but based on our ever-more nebulous definition of the term as a result of new features, text messaging is no longer a separate field.)

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courtenaybird:

The State of Social Media and Social Media Marketing in 2012

I think this definition of social media is a bit too loose. Groupon has social elements to it, but I don’t think it qualifies as a social medium, per se.

courtenaybird:

The State of Social Media and Social Media Marketing in 2012

I think this definition of social media is a bit too loose. Groupon has social elements to it, but I don’t think it qualifies as a social medium, per se.

(via emergentfutures)

Tags: social media
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The Year in Social Media

pewinternet:

Appropriately timed, our director Lee Rainie and New York Times staff writer Jennifer Preston discussed how social media has transformed over the year (on Minnesota Public Radio). Listen to the full discussion here.

Have you had a personal transformation because of social media over the last year? Do you use it as your main source of news gathering or perhaps to assess news? Or do you feel like you are living in an echo chamber?

Yes to both, of course. It’s my main method of accessing news, AND it’s a total echo chamber. It’s a somewhat problematic conflation.