The Sciences

Facebook to take on Google

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJul 15, 2009 5:40 AM


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Wired had a long piece on Facebook's attempt to challenge Google. The gist seems to be that just as Google revolutionized the way search was done via PageRank, so Facebook will revolutionize search though results generated via one's personal "Social Graph." I'm generally skeptical of this idea in relation to Facebook, though my skepticism has more to do with the assumption that the value of a social network declines as it becomes less exclusive. In the Wired piece the author suggests that Facebook has reached the penetration at which positive feeback loops begin to occur. Perhaps. But it seems that the bigger Facebook gets, to the point where most of the "internet" is on Facebook, the less of one's personal information one is going to put out there. In other words, I believe that the amount of valuable social information will begin to rise far slower than the number of people who are on Facebook because many joiners will join simply to view other people's profiles as opposed to putting themselves out there, at which point others may begin to mimic that sort of free-riding behavior.

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