With a staggering 500 million + active users and an ever increasing range of applications, is Facebook becoming ‘the’ web for a lot of people? This time last year, an incident where a blog post about Facebook ranked higher on Google than Facebook itself, provided a good indication on how people use search functions and how Facebook is for many, the only place to go. Will Facebook provide or become ‘the’ social operating system?
It could be argued that Facebook provides a useful introduction to the web (in a digital inclusion sense), providing file sharing, location updates, events etc. The flipside of which could lead to a lack of exploration and confidence to try other things outside of the service. Amongst this mix should we also think about the relevance and importance of choice? A wider selection of services, information and applications obviously exists outside Facebook. (but it’s all still pretty much down to the developers and programmers who provide these ‘choices’ which is a debate in itself) but are users overwhelmed by these external choices? Does Facebook’s limitations add to a culture of consuming rather than creating? Are we content with Facebook?
Should we actively encourage people to explore outside Facebook? Can we provide enough valid reasons for them to do so? I think we should. I’m in the throws of knocking up a resource that could help the debate along a little (watch this space). While Facebook seems like the one stop shop for everything social, it’s a very controlled environment that limits what users can actually do. I’m all for encouraging people to experiment and venture outside their comfort zones so therefore, while I’m not ‘anti-facebook’ (I use it myself on both a personal and work level), I want to promote the social web as something much more than Facebook could ever be.
So if Facebook is your ‘home’. How about stepping outside and having a little wander around? you might meet a few new people, visit a few new places… Who knows you may even fly the nest and settle down elsewhere.