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Technology

Facebook is for the herd

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJanuary 15, 2011 1:47 PM

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That seems to be what John Dvorak is saying, Why I Don't Use Facebook:

Which begs the question as to why anyone would use Facebook when it is essentially AOL done right? The fastest growing group on Facebook are people in their 70's. Oldsters are flocking to Facebook the way they once did with AOL. Facebook is a simple system for the masses that do not really care about technology and do not want to learn anything new except something easy like Facebook. Whenever someone tells me to check out something on Facebook, I recall the heyday of AOL with its keywords. "Go to the Internet at www.blah.com or AOL keyword: blah." This was a common comment on the nightly news or in magazines. The AOL keyword is replaced by the Facebook page name.

There is no reason for anyone with any chops online to be remotely involved with Facebook

, except to peruse it for lost relatives. So, next time you log on, remember it's really AOL with a different layout. Welcome to the past.

In broad qualitative strokes this seems about right. I've been hearing the Facebook-is-AOL analogy for years, and there are obvious similarities. I do have a Facebook page, but I don't use it for much. If I want to say something that's not substantial enough for a blog post, off to twitter. If I want to throw a few thousand words at a few thousand people, well, you know where I'm going to go with that. And of course, there's razib.com if someone wants to find/contact me. But I'm not a typical internet user. I use Ubuntu every day. That's not typical behavior. ~90% of personal computers have only Windows installed (I have a dual boot by the way, I'm not an OS zealot). That's how Microsoft makes bank, but it's not exactly a world-changing corporation right now (OK, last I checked it was more about Office in any case). If I had to hazard a prediction, I would say that Facebook isn't going to crash & burn like AOL. It has a good angle, and a huge market share. But it is fast approaching its mature business model. The idea that it will cannibalize the whole world wide web and strangle Google is ridiculous. Facebook is useful, but not indispensable, for "power" internet users. Your mom's time spent on Facebook will yield a great deal of advertising dollars, but it isn't going to transform the world. At some point many are going to wonder if it is useful to be a member of a club which will let anyone in. From their 13 year old brother to their 80 year old grandmother.

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