Mar 07, 2009 - 0 Comments - Uncategorized -

The Walled Garden

Facebook… Where should I begin! So much is known evaluated, cited, critiqued, we all use it some begrudgingly, some willingly.image020

Surprisingly Facebook is still not the number one social network in America. It still trailing behind MySpace but only just, and is expected to over take them in the next year or so. (1)

I knew of Facebook before it’s international fame. I tried to sign up but it was restricted to American users only and not only that, only American students in particular could register. Come to think of it… it is probably one of the smartest ways to start of a grass roots movement for a social network. Students eventually graduate and end up in the job market. I believe this was key to Facebook’s success and ever more prevalent existence with today’s twenty something’s, students, teens and young folk alike.

I’m an avid user of Facebook. Perhaps a bit too avid! I enjoy the access it gives me to friends and family afar and especially in the unique way I can interact with them. The array of different tools; notes, photo albums, pokes, wall writings. The way I can add the rest of my social network feeds into Facebook’s. The whole idea of a News Mini feed to se what other people who are in your network are up to. The way the information is displayed on your profile to see you activity and what you’re up to. Popular status messages asking you ‘What you are doing’ something which is very reminiscent of the Twitter platform. But what I really love is how users on a social network can interact and start a craze and create something incredibly popular and have it spread through the site like wild fire. With something so simple as the ’25 Random Things About Me’ (2). It’s really quite clever and a pleasure and addictive to use.

I think what strikes many of Facebook’s critics is how it managed to survive so long as a walled garden. The walled garden is a brilliant expression for Facebook because it is essentially that. Google can’t get in! There’s no Google food from Facebook. Except the public display page (3) which every user gets other than that all the goodness that goes inside is locked away from the prying eyes of search engines. Why is this? Is this the only way social networks will work?

image021However there are some predictions that in 2010 Facebook will no longer be the famed wall garden it has become to be known (4). Two weeks ago Facebook joined the board of OpenID Foundation. This shows a significant shift in their thinking. And according to David Recordon (5) “Facebook will become the most open social network on the social web”. What does this mean? Facebook is constantly changing and they need to do this. Change and innovation of Facebook is key to it’s success and it’s future. There’s only so much users can interact socially in certain formulated programmed ways on their site before they start jumping ship. Because it’s a tall tell sign when execs start to jump ship your social network site may not being doing so well. Even though you ‘used’ to be the talk of the town (6). Perhaps Facebook will avoid this. Certainly becoming the most open social network on the social web is an aspiration to be admired.

A final observation to make on this now most famous walled garden Zuckerberg has created would be to predict it’s demise. Morbid as it may sound if you sit in the camp that believe Facebook is of the ‘good’, all good things must inherently come to an end. The only way I can see this happening is by seeing that the more it becomes popular the more not only under thirties are joining but a whole plethora of age groups from all demographics. This I feel may intimidate younger users from joining who’ve long been the base of most social networks as is prevalent in MySpace. The paradox is that the young audience in MySpace is credited to it’s demise whereas Facebook I believe will need them to keep afloat to be vibrant successful and diverse and embrace and implement new ways of socially interacting online. Because it’s the young ones who usually embrace new technologies first. (7)

It’s important that Facebook listen. The recent terms of service scandal underlines this fact (6). Even though it was small base of people who complained approximately 10,000 users. 10,000 out of 175 million is miniscule, true. But it was interesting ot see how Facebook felt the need to explain themselves and post a small message on the top of everyone’s news feeds to see when they login.

1. John C. Davorak (2009) The Cranky Geeks: Computers Still Suck Episode 155 [internet] Available from: [http://www.crankygeeks.com/2009/02/episode_155_yahoo_headed_for_r.php] accessed 25th February 2009
2. Chris Wilson (2009) Slate: Charles Darwin Tagged You in a Note on Facebook [internet] http://www.slate.com/id/2211068 Accessed 11th February
3. Mohsin Ali Facebook Public profile: [internet] Available from http://www.Facebook.com/people/Mohsin-Ali/504379828 accessed 3rd February 2009
4. David Recordon (2009) O’Reilly Radar: Facebook in 2010: no longer a walled garden [internet] Available from: [http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/03/Facebook-in-2010-no-longer-a-walled-garden.html] accessed 11th February 2009
5. Erick Schonfeld (2009) TechCruch: Three MySpace Execs Departing To Start New Company (Leaked Memo) [internet] Available from: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/03/three-myspace-execs-departing-to-start-new-company-leaked-memo/ accessed 3rd March 2009
6. NTIA and the Economics and Statistics Administration (2002) A NATION ONLINE:
How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet [Report] Available from: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/dn/nationonline_020502.htm accessed 3rd March 2009
7. Ryan Singel (2009) Wired: Let’s Learn From Facebook’s Terms-of-Service Flap [internet] Available from:  http://blog.wired.com/business/2009/02/Facebook-flap.html accessed 20th February 2009