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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Facebook Profound Changes' Profound Implications

Posted by: danish Ahmed 5:17 AM


For sometime now social media as well as traditional media sites have been buzzing with information on Facebook undergoing profound change. Lately, creating a media hype before release of a product (Google+) or a major Facebook upgrade (video chatting feature)  has become an indispensible strategy but in this case I would wager that the change may really be profound. Facebook hasn't just changed the layout of the profile page, it has reinvented it too, incorporating various social web behaviour like listening to music or reading a book. The Gesture concept when properly applied may take us a whole level forward towards the Semantic Web. However,the idea of Facebook incorporating so much users data in their profiles is alarming , the privacy issue on Facebook gets more complicated and then there is the chance of Zuckerberg locking the users in.



Couple of weeks back Facebook redesigned the layout of the home page introducing replacing Newsfeed with Top News feature so that the updates that have been endorsed by other users became top news. However, the real-time feed  wasn't eliminated but reduced to a ticker on the right hand side of the page.  Now, Facebook takes one more step forward introducing a completely new Profile page with a Timeline, so that your life on web becomes an open book, with option to navigate through time and know what you were doing on a particular time. This feature could really help you separate signal from noise of your own updates! The feature has not been officially introduced but Facebook does let you enable it through Developer App. Here is mine.
Click for  larger view


  For me the most interesting addition is Facebook Gestures.
Facebook Like button may have become ubiquitous across the web but it is severely limiting when it comes to reflecting human expression,so Facebook would now,through Open Graph  provide options to [verb] any [noun]. This implies that developers can make button out of every verb and create object out of noun. For instance, while creating the app to enable my Timeline, the verb I created was Read and the object was Book. As you can see in the screenshot there is an Aggregation option which allows the developer to aggregate the number of times the action has been applied on the object, This can help online businesses immensely.

Additionally, it also seems to be a step towards something bearing semblance to Semantic Web concept. In any other context, this would have sounded immature but with 800 million users spending a lot of time logged in, this feature may, through crowdsourcing, at least generate a repository of semantically link verbs and nouns. So it is now quite obvious that Facebook may undergo profound change but what remains to be seen is how much the web would change from the impact.

The biggest hurdle Facebook now faces is not from competitors like Google+ but from its own dedicated users. Zuckerberg  is quite aware that users don't like changes and they don't take it lightly either, every time Facebook has made changes, the user response has varied from passive resentment to outright hostility but the protesters haven't quit the platform. However, no other social network has implemented such profound changes, so may be the reaction would be different. It is a fact that the way Facebook is developing and taking over our social behaviour, if we are not careful we are sharing on the platform, few years from now, we may find parts of our lives locked in

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