Nearline communication: Facebook intends to squash Synch & Asynchronous modes

16 11 2010

Facebook caters to 500 million people, so pleasing everyone is quite the task. Despite its astonishing growth, Facebook still has some impediments that limit its usefulness for many of us. It’s not an information network, it’s hardly a professional network and certainly not a viable email system/network. So how about making communication a continuum?

This week, Facebook made one of the most interesting moves in their recent history.

They announced features to empower user control of their ‘relevancy stream’. It’s no surprise that with the acquisition of FriendFeed last year that some of its core philosophy should finally appear.  While FriendFeed may have been too feature rich and catered only to power users, it still is/was a very powerful way for users to make their stream ultra-relevant to their lives and across their identities. Facebook’s recently announced changes now promise us a better focused feed stream. We could maybe, finally, potentially, use the platform to do more meaningful stuff.

Perhaps more importantly, regardless of the device we’re using, Facebook wants our conversations with people (or brands) to flow seamlessly throughout, based on user preferences. If you’re like me, Facebook rarely disseminates information important to your professional life. So I limit it to people that matter on a personal level. In this information age, it’s not who you know but what you know. Other platforms like Tweetdeck or Seesmic have allowed users to segregate streams by relevance using columns. Unfortunately, Facebook’s current ‘interestingness’ feature still makes users miss a bunch of important info.

Twitter, LinkedIn and other mail systems should rightfully question how they will respond. The ability for Facebook users to segregate their streams will certainly encroach (in theory) on the territory of these other platforms. Google’s failed attempts (Wave, Buzz) to re-engineer itself into a single interface across different information needs and identities show that it’s not easy. We ‘humans’ don’t change that easily. Once something works, we’ll stick with it till something far better comes along. Algorithmic platforms like Flipboard and have been helping us bring the signal to noise ratio down.  But for a network to stay relevant, it needs to bring that ratio down while increasing throughput or it will be outpaced by niche networks.

Some important consequences ensue:

If you’re boring or spammy, move over – If you’re facebooking too much about your lunches, you could find yourself more lonely… we may have finally found a spam solution.

Brands, it’s about to get tougher, which means you need to get real – A large number of fans could soon become fake fans if you’re not delivering VALUE to your followers.

Is it Facebook or Twitter? Perhaps a bit of both? – Facebook is trying to be more like Twitter since Twitter has been picking up much steam in the business world with a larger share of use among Fortune 500. Is this their answer?

So tell us, will you be using Facebook more for more things?

@YannR @Extanz

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