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Is Mark Zuckerberg the Next Steve Case? 470

Posted by Soulskill
from the case-in-point dept.
theodp writes "With all signs for Facebook pointing up, author Douglas Rushkoff goes contra, arguing that Facebook hype will fade. 'Appearances can be deceiving,' says Rushkoff. 'In fact, as I read the situation, we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Facebook. These aren't the symptoms of a company that is winning, but one that is cashing out.' Rushkoff, who made a similar argument about AOL eleven years ago in a quashed NY Times op-ed, reminds us that AOL was also once considered ubiquitous and invincible, and former AOL CEO Steve Case was deemed no less a genius than Mark Zuckerberg. 'So it's not that MySpace lost and Facebook won,' concludes Rushkoff. 'It's that MySpace won first, and Facebook won next. They'll go down in the same order.'"
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Is Mark Zuckerberg the Next Steve Case?

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  • Dead on. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headhot (137860) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:21AM (#34813858) Homepage

    In my network, posts are getting sparser and sparser. Just like the end of Freindser, or Orkut, or any other social network system. People get bored and stop. It the infusion of new users that drives their survival, and Facebook my be nearing the end of people willing to sign up.

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      Why do a social network need new users for the existing users to be willing to communicate?

      I haven't seen any difference in the activity in my feed, and I haven't added more than just 5 users the last year.

      • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by muuh-gnu (894733) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:55AM (#34814032)

        Why did those users need a web based so called "social network" to communicate in the first place? Before FB, they had email, forums, IRC, IMs, why did they need a web based communicaiton tool? Once they were all over those web based networks, why did every 2-3 years one network win over the users of a former network-de-jour? Because every one was purely technically "better" than all the former ones? Dream on.

        I think this "ease of use" premise with regard to socal networks way always false, I think what always drove people to new means of communication was the quest for other new people. Communities of any kind, be it RL cliques, IRC channels or social networks, tend to dry up with regard to interesting new content once there is no influx of new blood. Then users one by one, beginning with the influentiel trend setters, like queen bees, tend to wander around in search for a more interesting, cool new beehive. If, no, _when_ they find one, all the lower status worker bees will naturally follow, since the value of the old place drops significantly without the social leaders. People, especially the more easily bored social leaders, are somehow in an eternal quest for change. They tend to easily be bored in a low flox environment. The only thing FB _can_ do is prolong the time the queen bees will be interested enough to stay before their search goes on. They may hold them for 5 years but even that does not sound realistic. They will never be able to simply stop the migration, since this would mean rewiring hardwired behavioral patterns, which one tiny website, no matter how much users it by chance may have at a certain point of time, will simply not be able to do.

        • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:02AM (#34814058)

          I would disagree.

          I don't post on facebook much but it has gotten me in touch with a lot of past friends.

          It is an easy way to post pictures of the family without clogging people e-mail box.

          Also, and most important to me, if I have a situation where people wants regular updates(my kid deathly sick in the hospital),
          it is an easy way to send them without annoying people.

          I can also follow friends and family with annoying them.

          • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by neokushan (932374) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:44AM (#34814294)

            ^ this,

            Social networking has never interested me much, but during the birth of my child, my wife was in labour for nearly 15 hours. Normally, we would have had all sorts of friends and family trying to ring us or text us or whatever, just to know what was going on. Instead, I opted to tweet various status updates (which were automatically posted on facebook). This turned out to be a brilliant idea (I was just looking for something to do at the time) as people were kept up to date, nobody could complain that they weren't "told first" (something that happened when we announced our wedding) and all the messages coming through could be read at our leisure.

            It was also just as easy to post up a picture mere minutes after he was born, once again everyone that WANTED to know did and those that didn't could just ignore it.
            That would never work with email, or IRC or even instant messaging.

            • by sjbe (173966) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:56PM (#34815174)

              ...nobody could complain that they weren't "told first" (something that happened when we announced our wedding)

              I have a strict policy for people who do this to my wife and I. They get told *last* if they get told at all from that point on until we receive an apology. This applies to parents, siblings, and everyone else. I have no time for anyone who thinks they "deserve" priority in how I disclose facts about my life.

              Usually I just designate someone I trust to be the point person and I relay all information to them if I don't have time to relay important information myself. They get it to the people who need/want to know. Most of the people I deal with do not use Facebook or Twitter (myself included) so if I used those services I would be de-facto prioritizing those few who use those services. Nothing wrong with doing it through Facebook if that fits nicely into your social network. Doesn't work for me though.

              • by thomasdz (178114) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @02:27PM (#34815802)

                I have a strict policy for people who do this to my wife and I. They get told *last* if they get told at all from that point on until we receive an apology. This applies to parents, siblings, and everyone else. I have no time for anyone who thinks they "deserve" priority in how I disclose facts about my life.

                Dear friend "sjbe (173966)". I am upset that you didn't notify me first about this policy... I had to hear about it via Slashdot and I'm sitting here crying and wondering what I did to sjbe (173966) to deserve this awful treatment.

            • by syousef (465911)

              ^ this,

              Social networking has never interested me much, but during the birth of my child, my wife was in labour for nearly 15 hours. Normally, we would have had all sorts of friends and family trying to ring us or text us or whatever, just to know what was going on.

              Switch off your damn phone. Birth is an intense and personal experience. A few decades ago you'd have been outside in a waiting room yourself with very little information, stupid a system as that was. Now you can be right there beside your wife. You don't want to waste your time with status updates. No one needs to know anything other than she's okay so far but it's a long labour.

          • You're a target (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mangu (126918)

            Also, and most important to me, if I have a situation where people wants regular updates(my kid deathly sick in the hospital),
            it is an easy way to send them without annoying people.

            I can also follow friends and family with annoying them.

            Two words: identity theft.

            "Here's my last picture of grandpa Jones" means your mother's maiden name was Jones.

            "Here's the family in front of our new home" means the street number appears on the photo.

            And so on. I don't want to spread unnecessary data about myself and my family, that's why I don't use social networks.

            • Re:You're a target (Score:5, Informative)

              by shadowrat (1069614) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:38PM (#34815056)
              Nobody forces you to put your wife's maiden name on facebook. Facebook even prevents unauthorized access to any info you post. I assume you also wouldn't send an email containing a picture of grandpa jones because that can be easily intercepted. Even if you encrypt it, one careless recipient could forward it without encryption.

              Your best protection against identity theft is knowing what you can and can't post. You seem to have that knowledge so I don't know what you would have to lose by posting some casual fb updates.
            • by igny (716218) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @01:01PM (#34815218) Homepage Journal
              I do not think that revealing that your mother's maiden name was Jones on Slashdot was much better.
        • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:30AM (#34814204)

          ....for whatever reason. People signed on to Facebook with their real names.

          It's the first popular social network where you can actually find people from real life.

          • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:40AM (#34814274)
            Well, I guess if by "popular" you mean to include non-computer users, you are correct. On the other hand, there was once a time when people used their real names on Usenet (in fact, some still do), and people would meet each other using Usenet.
          • ....for whatever reason. People signed on to Facebook with their real names.

            It's the first popular social network where you can actually find people from real life.

            I've heard this before, but why does that make them different? Why can't the Next Big Thing also use real names, if that is such a required feature?

            And it seems like "real names" is one of the things that makes Facebook so annoying. Nobody wants "mom" or hiring managers reading the messages intended for drinking buddies. People hate being forced to choose between turning down friend requests from certain real friends and having to sanitize everything they write because everyone you know will be reading it.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:52AM (#34814698)

            as someone who has half a dozen accounts under various 'names' I can tell you for a fact that there are lots of accounts that aren't under real names. I wonder how many of the 500 million accounts are genuine and how many are accounts like mine.

        • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:50PM (#34815134) Journal

          Difference?

          My grandma never used IRC. QED.

      • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by boxwood (1742976) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:06AM (#34814090)

        New users spend a lot more time on the site, post more content, send more messages, etc.

        I've been on facebook for years. I rarely update my status or post photos now. All of my friends who have been on there for a while are the same. Sometimes I meet someone who just got on facebook and they post more messages so I load up facebook more often to see what messages they've posted to me. But after a while they get bored too, post less often, and so I have less need to go to facebook.

        Facebook became the most popular website due to the network effect, but they will become less popular due to the boredom effect. As more people become bored with facebook they stop posting and just go to read what everyone else is up to. But as more people transition from adding content to just viewing content, there is less content and less reason to go there to view content. And now that more people are becoming aware of privacy issues with facebook it becomes even less likely they will post stuff there.

        So it has a big userbase, but a lot of that userbase is bored. When the next cool thing comes out that "everyone" is using, they will just use that and not bother with facebook anymore.

        • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:44AM (#34814634) Homepage Journal

          I've been on facebook for years. I rarely update my status or post photos now.

          Your friends are boring, and so are you. So are most of my friends, but some of them (and myself) continue to kick out high-value links and status messages.

        • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by netsharc (195805) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:43PM (#34815094)

          Also, what about the fact that now everybody and their bosses and their moms are friends with each other, people are censoring themselves because of fear of stigmatizing from whoever. People talk differently to their college buddies than with their parents, when it was just just your college friends with you, posting on it is like having a party in the dorms, and now posting on FB is more like giving a speech in your wedding, where everyone from your life is there. So people no longer talk freely.

          Yep, it's doomed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Facebook is so 2010!

    • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:39AM (#34814258)

      At some point, I think all social networking bullshit will inevitably be reduced to about 10% of what it currently is.

      People will finally grasp what the rest of us grasped ages ago. That is, I have nothing worth saying that hundreds or thousands of people need to know about and none of them have anything worth saying that I give a damn about. We're all just a bunch of circle-jerking morons so wrapped up in ourselves and the trivial reciprocation (to ensure that those in our circle will continue to care about us, too). Eventually people will pull their heads out of their own asses and move on.

      They'll return to the way things should be done. If you have something important to say and there are people in your life that are important enough to tell it to, you email them or call them. You have a direct dialogue with them, rather than this self-absorbed mass-broadcasting of everything, where those who are on the other end are merely absorbers of your greatness. And they'll contact you directly when they have something to talk about, too. Everything else doesn't need to be shared and you can have actual individual relationships and discussions with people.

      It's the same way we went through the whole web thing. The first time you discovered the web, you probably spent endless hours doing random things, just because it was new and amazing. Fifteen years later, you recognize that the web is a vast wasteland of shit and you only utilize it and things on it when you have a specific objective. Random surfing is largely a thing of the past.

      It also reminds me of the AOL days (during the time, I was an engineer at Netscape) in that "everyone" was amazed by it as a consumer or an investor, but everyone I knew saw it as an obsolete toy for people that hadn't yet grown out of it. And people eventually did. Just like there are countless rational people who step back and shake their heads at Facebook and the never-ending self-important social-networking habits of people . . . which we recognize as doomed to become obsolete.

      • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4@gmBLUEail.com minus berry> on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:34PM (#34815028)

        People will finally grasp what the rest of us grasped ages ago. That is, I have nothing worth saying that hundreds or thousands of people need to know about and none of them have anything worth saying that I give a damn about. We're all just a bunch of circle-jerking morons so wrapped up in ourselves and the trivial reciprocation (to ensure that those in our circle will continue to care about us, too). Eventually people will pull their heads out of their own asses and move on.

        I highly doubt this. I'm sure that you (and possibly everyone else on /. - and myself included) has that sort of attitude with respect to what we say, but when we come out of our caves and look at how others in society work, we still see that there are tons of people who keep spewing shit out of their mouth that they expect the whole world to be interested in (I mean, in which they expect the whole workd to be interested). Like that guy on the bus or subway that wants to talk about every damn word he reads in the paper. Or the girl waiting in line at the fast food counter talking on the top of her lungs into the phone while ordering. No - people will continue talking. There's just a small demographic (mostly on /.) that really doesn't, in fact, want to broadcast everything we know.

        They'll return to the way things should be done. If you have something important to say and there are people in your life that are important enough to tell it to, you email them or call them. You have a direct dialogue with them, rather than this self-absorbed mass-broadcasting of everything, where those who are on the other end are merely absorbers of your greatness. And they'll contact you directly when they have something to talk about, too. Everything else doesn't need to be shared and you can have actual individual relationships and discussions with people.

        Again, I disagree. First of all, if there's something you need to say to many people (like, It's a boy! or, I got a new job!), why would you go through the effort of telling everyone you know individually? Why wouldn't you bother letting everyone in the world know at once (keeping in mind that most people couldn't care less about their privacy or security of course)? Especially since everyone communicates through it instantly and en masse, whereas via a phone you can only have one-on-one dialogue.

        For those things that you need to communicate individually, nothing will stop you from doing it, but Facebook offers a new medium for different needs. Plus the fact that you can send 'private' messages to those that you want to talk to exclusively at once, or create private groups for that matter.

        It's the same way we went through the whole web thing.

        Maybe the web just wasn't what a lot of people needed. A lot of people want Facebook as a medium for communication.

        On the whole, I think most of this discussion is a false analogy. Facebook is different. It's something people actually want, and it's something that makes their lives easier and more enjoyable. The Web, AOL, they were all largely novelties that died down when people realized it wasn't relevant to them. Facebook is, however. And while there are few, and mostly inferior alternatives to it, it will remain large.

        Of course, any sane person would have facebook blocked in their hosts file by now.

      • Re:Dead on. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:50PM (#34815130)

        That is, I have nothing worth saying that hundreds or thousands of people need to know about and none of them have anything worth saying that I give a damn about.

        he says as he posts to slashdot, one of the original social networking sites.

        thousands are probably reading this, too.

        oh, the (not irony - what's the word I'm looking for?)

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @01:59PM (#34815606)

          This spectrum of interaction styles, including email, usenet, web forums, and facebook et al. makes me wonder if there is an underlying sociological or psychological message or two...

          As a recently graying beard myself, I know I miss the days when usenet and email worked and were assumed to be the right solution. I still vaguely despise these new-fangled web forums for replacing usenet with more of a walled garden, where the forum operator can wield their little powers and also siphon ad revenue out of the cosmos. And I despise facebook et al because they go a step further, encouraging a narcissistic world view within a continuation of the web operator's unnecessary concentration of power.

          But these are two different dimensions: greed drives the commercialization that works very hard to dismantle the decentralized nature of early Internet communication and replace them with walled gardens where ads and analytics can run wild---the conversion of the populace into a market/product. On the other dimension, the communication styles still range from personal 1:1 or 1:many (email, informal email lists); to celebrity-oriented broadcasts or cliques (email newsletters, blogs, conventional web columns); to topical forums (usenet before it rotted out, discussion forums like slashdot, research via search engine).

          Those of us who despise the new social networking the most are often more academic- and engineering-oriented users. I think we secretly want to retain the web as a worldwide library where we can research whatever we need and possibly publish if and when we have something worth publishing. Meanwhile, we've got other users who want it to be some version of gossip circle, whether fitting the template of the town square, cafe, pub, school house, or street corner. And of course we've got greedy fuckers who don't care about any of that, really, as long as they can figure out how to exploit it---this includes the big corporations trying to control the market, the small sites living on ad revenue, the kids fantasizing about launching the next big thing, and the users hoping to get their big break and transcend to celebrity status.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SpinyNorman (33776)

          Is it really social networking if most people are anonymous (either literally or using a handle). How may people make their e-mail addresses public?

          This is just a giant chat group.

    • In my network, posts still continue at a steady rate. People constantly use Facebook to organize events, post photos, talk about goings on, share links, have debates, etc. Barely anyone gets bored and stops, though some people will temporarily deactivate during exams. Nobody gets worried that their parents are on facebook, nobody "self censors", etc. Pretty much nobody cares that there are only limited "new people" to discover on facebook, it's become a convenient platform for that group of people. And this
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:21AM (#34813860) Journal

    So if the Facebook hype is fading and FB already cashing in, what is the competitor and why did their user base just go from 500 million people to 600 million people? Facebook is stronger than ever, and I don't see why they have to keep increasing their user base to remain profitable. Google don't need to attract new users to their search engine all the time in order to stay profitable, since it's ad driven, not driven by signups.

    Until there is a good competitor to Facebook, Facebook has absolutely no problems, and its future isn't even dim.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:37AM (#34813944)

      There are 3 stages.
      Early adopters: It is the new hip thing to do. Also this is where the zealots and the big fans come in. This was the area when face book was considered a social network for college kids.

      Middle adopters: This is where the product gets it's name recognition. And big envesters come in. This is where it really grows. you don't need to be hip to use it it is mostly expected.

      Late adopters: Ok it isn't a fad. That is when grandma gets an account. It is big and the early adopters start leaving to the next big thing.

      So even when you go from stage 2-3 you are still growing. But you are approaching the end.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cptdondo (59460) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:56AM (#34814036) Journal

        I'd really like to see the demographic of the msot active accounts. Just from my own anecdotal evidence. the vast majority of facebook users seem to be teen girls. Most adults I know use Facebook as a specific tool; to get name recognition for an election, to spread word of an art show, etc.

        The teen girls seem to use it for social networking the most.

        Teen girls grow up, get boyfriends, move on. Adults, with few exceptions, don't really use facebook in a way markedly different from a blog or even an email newsletter.

        So a demographic would really be instructive.

      • Exactly, I knew it was time to get off facebook when my mom asked to be my friend.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:48AM (#34813992)
      When you get down to it, Facebook doesn't actually do something people need -- it is fun, people like it, but people had friends and social networks before Facebook, MySpace, BBSes, etc. People talk about how Facebook puts them in touch with lost friends; my experience has been that people are "in touch" only to the extent of clicking adding the person to their friends list, and then never speaking to them again. Farmville is not really a killer app, it is just an amusement. Facebook could vanish suddenly tomorrow, and I doubt that society would be seriously affected by its absence.
      • by takowl (905807) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:56AM (#34814038)

        When you get down to it, there are several multi-billion dollar industries entirely based around things we don't really need, and many that have been around for a good while. Music, film, drugs, sports, perfume, computer games... In fact, in first world countries, stuff people don't need probably accounts for the majority of economic activity*. Facebook is hardly unique in that respect.

        *Disclaimer: this claim is a wild guess based on no actual statistics, and what people "need" is arguable anyway.

        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:02AM (#34814060)
          Well, I was replying to a post that said it was unfathomable for Facebook to die, because of how many users it has. My point is that, in fact, it is not unfathomable, because Facebook everything that Facebook does is either redundant or useless, in terms of what people need. All of the industries you named have prominent examples of companies and styles that have go under because people just stopped being interested or because their product or style was not fashionable anymore.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by N3Bruce (154308)

        I had the Farmville virus for a few months last winter, until the program got impossible to load. Fast forward 6 months, I decided to try again just for the heck of it. I had something like 30 neighbors at my peak, but when I looked around about 80% of the farms were withered, fallow, or plowed with nothing planted. Same with Mafia Wars, which I had also given up on and not really looked back. Got tired of all the stupid stuff the games put up on your wall if you want the game to help you. The messages sen

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hardtofindanick (1105361) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:03AM (#34814068)
      Google is driven by necessity, Facebook is driven by vanity. Guess which one is here to stay.
  • by superdude72 (322167) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:24AM (#34813876)

    Except that when AOL was deluging the world with free installation CDs, it was clear that most of AOL's users would migrate to The Real Internet as soon as they got a clue. I don't see a successor to Facebook on the horizon just yet. Not that it can't happen.

    He has a point in that in there are some unknown quantities in Facebook's revenue model. We don't know how valuable all the information they've collected on users will turn out to be in terms of actually increasing the effectiveness of advertising. We know that it is desireable to marketers at the moment, but marketing trends change.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:05AM (#34814082) Journal

      Maybe Facebook sers will migrate to The Real Internet too? Facebook chat and picture hosting seem to be the two killer features that people (at least, people I talk to) seem to want. Facebook chat is just a non-federated Jabber server with a web interface. Google and others provide a federated Jabber server with a web interface for free.

      Picture hosting is just a special-purpose web server; when Internet connections get slightly faster I can imagine this being a built-in feature in consumer routers. Don't upload your pictures to a remote server, just copy them to your own web server and send people links. A competent ISP could start offering this service now and run a transparent reverse proxy so anything people actually download is cached and doesn't use the last-mile upstream.

      • by Junta (36770) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:40AM (#34814594)

        I would like to agree with you, but I think the issue is the more bullet-proof, federated architectures of piece-parts that are readily available otherwise. If that were the case, neither MySpace nor Facebook would have come to prominence. AOL died because the internet became a superset of what AOL contained, could be accessed equally from school campuses, work, and home, and opened the door for cheaper and higher-bandwidth providers. Content providers couldn't restrict themselves to a service that most people couldn't get to from work or school, so they published at least on the internet and maybe AOL. That was the key nail in the coffin IMO.

        On user provided content, the trend seems clear enough from geocities/angelfire, to myspace, to facebook. Each required less and less work from users (by sacrificing customization capability). Also, as they ditched customization, one navigating content provided by several friends is faced with a more and more consistent set of data. Of course, much of this could be hypothetically reproduced by a near monopoly releasing a distributed approach to this, but it would *have* to be on some embedded device that people wouldn't tend to sleep/turn off, eliminating the most likely candidate for that.

        Another issue of this is the natural aggregation of information in facebook. The users look at one page and data provided by all of their 'friends' is aggregated into one apparent stream of data. This is the tricky part to do in a distributed fashion. Becoming a friend or fan of someone could hypothetically request an explicit push of data from one person to all friends/fans they have then and there even if that friend never reads it. However, this would scale worse than what a site like facebook deals with. The converse of scan on read would similarly be bad, with the additional problem that the experience would be apparently sluggish and miss/hiccup as peers are down. Approaches to make it appear responsive would cause 'invisible' gaps to be in the data where unavailable data is missing and magically appears when available. If not assembled by the home routers, it would have to be a federated set of content-providers. e-mail is probably the most similar model, and that carries the problem of inefficient storage. Each user gets a disparate copy of the data. Also, once out there, it cannot be edited in a single copy. Basically, people explicitly want to put all their data in a *single* authoritative place, which naturally leads to things like facebook.

        Which brings us to another point, people are used to what datacenters provide in terms of reliable data delivery. Home routers would be subject to ISP outages (which are not infrequent in residential price points), power outages/blips, people just turning their stuff off, router hardware/firmware problems without elaborate failover or even someone paying particularly close attention. Rationally, a 'facebook' application isn't critical enough to consider an outage in a vacuum particularly important, but the emergent behavior of a few missing pieces would be perceived as garbage. Not to mention more work on the part of the participants to notice when their stuff isn't working and fix something.

        I have dovecot, postfix, roundcube and squirrelmail running on my home system providing mail, and have other web content I share up too. I must confess I'm moving more and more of my email to gmail. My home system is pretty sufficient and I like the control, however when I'm on vacation I worry that something will happen that would require me to fix that would not be possible remotely. I also like doing a lot of things like upgrades and experimentation and the system with email responsibility I can't really mess with in a way that induces a long downtime. I would move my home domain to google and be done with it, except I use -<suffix> addresses and google only supports +<suffix> addressing.

        I don't think facebook will continue indefinitely specifically.. It will be replaced by something

      • by ukemike (956477)

        Facebook chat and picture hosting seem to be the two killer features that people (at least, people I talk to) seem to want.

        That may be what they say they want, but the real killer feature that Facebook has is a critical mass of users with which to chat and share pictures. Frankly I don't see that changing any time soon. The young kids will surely find something cooler and better, but don't expect Grandpa or Aunt Suzy to jump ship any time soon. As far as this cranky old man is concerned, sharing thoughts and pictures with friends and family is all that "social networking" is good for. I wouldn't go to some new "better" sit

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:39AM (#34814256)

      The info FB has collected on EU citizens may be valuable to marketers, however they won't get their hands on it. Thus the value of it to FB's bottom line is very nearly zero.

      Basically FB and similar huge online sites collecting personal info, like Amazon and eBay, would run afoul of EU's Data protection Directive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Protection_Directive [wikipedia.org] if they start sharing their databases with third parties. FB has specifically been told by the EU that they, FB, will be blocked in most EU member states at the firewall level if they do this.

      The background is that the data FB is likely to have, in many cases will include particularly sensitive information relating to gender, sexuality, political observation and more. This type of data are especially sensitive in the view of EU law and subject to extremely strict restrictions on how it can be used and shared. In particular some kind of click-through EULA absolutely isn't sufficient to consider the user to have given consent to sharing of data. Please see this page for more info: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/policies/privacy/index_en.htm [europa.eu]

      Also check the last paragraph in the section marked 'Scope' if you wish to argue that FB isn't based in the EU. The short answer is that - as far as EU law is concerned - this doesn't matter. The service provider, FB in this case, will by definition need to use electronic equipment, IE. networking equipment, inside the EU to reach their users.

      So now you know why the info collected by, say, eBay isn't already used for marketing purposes by third parties.

      All this was made clear to FB in no uncertain terms not too long ago, and may be one reason why people try to cash in on FB. Once the market realizes the collected EU info is worthless, then things may change a bit on the valuation front...

      • by tomhudson (43916)
        And once Americans learn that the Europeans, Canadians, and Asians are all refusing to let Facebook exploit their personal data, they're going to want the same rights. Then things get ugly.
  • The one thing facebook has going for it is media attention. Outside of that, they are a very easy market to attack.

  • Boring (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <giles,jones&zen,co,uk> on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:26AM (#34813894)

    People are already getting bored of Facebook. It's just there and taken for granted now.

    What has been lost with Facebook is the spirit of social networking. It's more a site where you add all your friends or people you have met in real life. Other sites allowed you to make new connections with people you didn't know.

    I put this down to Facebook's ability to enter all your details, name, address, phone number and so on. It was pretty obvious once your profile allows you to add some very specific information that is valuable for ID theft that people would then lock down their profiles and no longer be networking outside of their group of friends.

  • by Froggie (1154)

    Or should that be "me too"?

  • Can't wait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by martas (1439879) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:27AM (#34813898)
    I think my retinas get a rash every time i see the word 'facebook'... But there's one flaw with this argument -- we haven't observed the Internet long enough to be able to make definite conclusions about how on-line companies evolve. The Internet 10 years ago was a very different place from the Internet today, and I'm not sure the AOL case generalizes to FB (unfortunately).
    • Re:Can't wait (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:08AM (#34814102) Journal
      It's not so much companies as communication models. Initially, any new form of communication is dominated by incompatible proprietary systems. Then these give way to some form of standard and the market is either filled by government monopolies that interoperate at a national level or by smaller companies that interoperate at a smaller scale. We've seen this with postal systems, telephones, electronic mail, computer networks, and instant messaging. Social networking might be the one that breaks the trend, but it seems unlikely.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Its happened before. it'll happen again..

    First it was everyone had a useless page. Geoshitties ect..

    Then everyone wanted to be IM connected all the time to everyone. AOL, icq, ect ect ect.

    Then everyone wanted a blog.

    Myspace/Facebook is back at the top. A useless page.
    SMS might be the next stage...

    I wonder what the new version of the blog will be...

    Everything old is new again.. And again... And again..........

    • by zmollusc (763634)

      You could be right.
      I never had a page, or used IM, or blogged and now I don't use MyBook.

    • by medcalf (68293)
      Yeah, and that dynamic plays out all over the place in tech. We keep reinventing things, giving them new names, and acting like we've changed the world. My favorite example: SOA. SOA is nothing more than port-based services all running on one port, and distinguishing themselves by publishing their identity over that same port (to specially crafted messages) rather than the port implying their identity, coupled with the idea of software reusability but without copying the code to whatever projects need it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:34AM (#34813938)

    I'm not sure this guy properly understands that Facebook is not just a website that someone can make a better alternative to and everyone will ditch. Facebook knows who everyone actually is online and everyone has invested time into building their profiles on it. Thus people value their Facebook profiles and are much less likely to spam, say obscene things, troll and generally be a total idiot on the internet if it is tied to their Facebook profile. This one thing is priceless and subject to massive network effects making it very hard for a competitor to enter.MySpace fell due to being offline and not being an adequate website.

    • by Aerynvala (1109505) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:48AM (#34813990) Homepage
      What facebook are you one that people don't troll with their logged in identity? I've seen plenty of people being absolute jackasses in a variety of painful ways to anyone and everyone they could be, all while signed in under their own names. I've seen people use their facebook login to sign into other sites that allow it and continue to be jackasses in brand new places.

      Having your name attached only shuts up the moderately sane.
  • ...was the end of the end of facebook for me
  • Killcreek (Score:5, Funny)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:38AM (#34813954) Homepage

    When I read the headline I thought huh, he's going to pose for Playboy and marry John Romero?

  • stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j0nb0y (107699) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `003yobnoj'> on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:41AM (#34813962) Homepage

    AOL died because it was impossible for them to transition from dialup to broadband. While they could easily serve the entire country with dialup, it was impossible for them to do the same with broadband because broadband access is controlled by an oligopoly of companies who knew it was in their interest to keep tight control.

    AOL died when the open access rules died.

    There is no parallel to facebook because there is no oligopoly who can keep facebook from upgrading their website.

    Actually, that may turn out to be the dumbest thing I've ever written. The lack of net neutrality rules could kill facebook just like the lack of open access rules killed aol.

    Even if that doesn't happen, I would not eagerly invest in facebook. Of course, I said the same thing about Google when they IPO'd, so what do I know?

    • by Junta (36770)

      Also, AOL had their own walled garden of value that evaporated with an internet that automatically looked the same regardless of whether you accessed it from home, work, or school. AOL on broadband would have been insufficient to keep them relevant (it was on broadband of course, and available anywhere you could install their software with any internet access, which was not most school and work cases).

      In terms of predicting whether or not facebook or anyone else will die and when, all of the rational discu

  • Second life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pepax (748182) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:43AM (#34813970)
    Does anyone remember it? Even real companies were spending money to build their spaces there. How long ago was that? And now? Just tumbleweed...
    • Does anyone remember it? Even real companies were spending money to build their spaces there. How long ago was that? And now? Just tumbleweed...

      I remember it! sometimes I type "sl" into the firefox address bar and fail at using the awesome bar to get to slashdot, and end up at the second life website....

  • by brentc3114 (1047790) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:47AM (#34813988)
    I don't really see too much value in Facebook. Its nice to keep track of your relatives and friends but it becomes a pain to maintain. I laugh when I hear people at work who actually put effort into their Facebook page-especially since some of them got fired for for what they posted on it. I have my 15 year old daughter put some generic pictures of the family up there and occasionally I answer the friend request. I may be lazy or greedy but Facebook doesn't put money into my pocket so I don't put much effort into it. In fact I see it as a potential liability that can be used against me on the job, or give the general public too much information as to what I am doing. If I am going to post on a website it will be Slashdot or one of the hobby websites that I subscribe to. Now my 15 year old daughter lives for Facebook-this news might affect her. This may be a generational thing. If it is fading I don't see it with the younger set-yet. I wouldn't blame Zuckerberg for cashing out-isn't that what every computer geeks dream is?
  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @09:53AM (#34814024)

    Comparing Zuckerberg to Case is an insult to Case. AOL wasn't the best internet service - what with being a kind of walled garden - but it was built on providing internet services to novice customers. Zuckerberg on the other hand built a service based on selling profiling data to advertisers. Zuckerberg would be lucky to be compared to John Sculley (or if you want scumbags, try Kenneth Lay), let alone Steve Case.

    • by methano (519830)
      I agree that everyone who remembers Steve Case is being a little hard on the guy. He started a little company that got a lot of people on the web for the first time. And when the world decided that his company was worth gazillions more than he thought it was, he quickly turned that balloon money into ownership in a real company, Time-Warner. So he made sure that his supporters (ie. stock holders) got a piece of the action before the bubble burst and turned their investments into dust. It's unfortunate t
  • Seriously, do they care if they become the 'next to fade out'? They made their billions, and if their company fades away they can just do something else that is fun to them. No real skin off their nose, so to speak.

  • Facebook has a very large number of active users, and it will have a very large number of active users for at least the next 3 years. The photo albums and friend networks are very good reasons why people will keep coming back, and I think it would take some fairly strong disincentives to get them to stop.

    All of this means that they have a way of making money for at least the next 3 years, probably far longer. It won't be enough to justify their valuation, but it will be a lot.

    I think that they are a far bet

  • Shallow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Sunday January 09, 2011 @10:03AM (#34814072) Homepage

    What an idiot. He just says "MySpace falls first, Facebook falls second" without even attempting an analysis into why MySpace fell to Facebook. It's not the definitive analysis, in fact it's off-the-cuff, but here's mine:

    MySpace was infantile. It encouraged aliases, whereas Facebook encouraged valid names. MySpace also had GeoCities personalization. There's nothing wrong with infantile if that's what you want your market to be. Facebook appeals to people of all ages, and that is one of the main reasons it won.

    Now that Facebook has its installed base of the whole world, it's not going anywhere.

    For some reason, the author of this article has AOL on the mind. He mentions "AOL chat rooms" as being in the same spectrum as MySpace and Facebook. Never mind that AOL chat rooms, by being on AOL, limited the potential audience to those on dial-up. More interesting to me is why Facebook has replaced UseNet or even the blogs that supplanted UseNet. The reason is that Facebook is people-centric while UseNet and blog are topic-centric. There is a reason why we call it "social networking". It's different.

    I see Facebook as being the Microsoft Word that beat out WordPerfect, WordStar, and a host of platform-specific predecessors to those. Once Microsoft reached the installed base of the whole world, the whole world wasn't about to switch, at least not for a few decades. There was an ultimate and lasting victor in that chain of previous market failures. In the analysis of trends of word processors, it was a case of "Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Results".

    • Re:Shallow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cshotton (46965) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:52PM (#34815146) Homepage

      It's just as shallow to compare a desktop software application's success to the much more transient, ephemeral, and difficult to quantify success of Facebook. Better to look at the Internet as a whole and ask a couple of simple questions.

      First, name one network-wide, user-oriented application level service that was present when the commercial Internet opened for business in 1991 that is still in operation and use today.

      Discounting UseNet and Email as infrastructure, the answer is likely "nothing." It's instructive to consider why. Early community plays on the Internet (The Well, The Globe, AOL, WebTV, and even MySpace) fell in succession, not because there weren't plenty of users and not because they weren't good services. They fell because, by definition, something newer and better comes along. It's the same reason we don't drive horse-drawn wagons to work. Supporting the infrastructure and feature set of an existing system means, by definition, that you will never be able to change and adopt new technologies as fast as someone else starting with a clean slate.

      Second, what is so special about Facebook that it will avoid being obsolesced by the next cool fad? Answer again, "nothing".

      Facebook's only advantage is the depth of its social graph. And as many posters have noted, the average Facebook user has a pretty static social graph and no need to add to it in any significant way now. Once you are fully connected, it becomes trivial to notify your graph that you are moving elsewhere, and then Metcalfe's Law kicks in. Once the infrastructure becomes distributed and you are no longer locked into a single service, people will be free to move their social graph and associated applications wherever they'd like.

      Extrapolating the past lifecycles of similar, successful social sites to Facebook, it seems logical to conclude (as the author did) that Facebook's days are numbered. Maybe in the thousands, but numbered nonetheless.

  • Was Steve Case's net worth estimated at roughly 7 times AOL's all time cumulative profits? Cause thats the fantasy Facebook's CEO is currently enjoying.
  • i bet.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by omgtofu (1973310) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:32AM (#34814542)
    IRC will make a miraculous comeback!
  • by theodp (442580) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:32AM (#34814544)

    Sep. 22, 1997: AOL's Big Coup [time.com] ("The Web was going to kill it. Microsoft was going to bury it. But by grabbing CompuServe, America Online keeps on growing."). Jan. 24, 2000: The Big Deal [time.com] ("How the AOL-Time Warner merger happened. Does it make any sense?"). May 31, 2010: Facebook ...and How It's Redefining Privacy [time.com] ("With nearly 500 million users, Facebook is connecting us in new (and scary) ways"). Dec 27, 2010: Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg [time.com] ("Person of the Year. The Connector").

  • fraud reekage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:55AM (#34814720) Journal
    The whole Goldman-Sax deal reeks of manipulation, if not outright fraud. GS makes a huge fee on these private placement deals. But first they need to establish a market value for what they are selling. So they buy it themselves! By paying that extremely high price they've established the current "proper" value for the shares. Then they turn around and "place" (sell) the other 1.5 billion worth, raking in a fee of perhaps 1/3.

    The kicker is that the shares they themselves bought are unrestricted. The ones they are placing have big restrictions on selling. So now, once those restricted shares are placed they can turn around and dump the shares they bought. But those are worth quite a bit more, as they are unrestricted.

    Goldman-Sax might rake in as much as a cool billion on this deal, while Facebook not only gets the cash, but they also get to enjoy this shiny new "valuation" in further deals.

    What a racket.

  • by twasserman (878174) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#34814832)
    Count me as someone who has not drunk the Facebook Kool-Aid. No wall, no friends -- poor me. Every now and then, I get an invitation from a friend or personal acquaintance to join. But lately almost all of the invitations are from corporations -- inviting me to Like them in return for some coupon or other offer. I know that the Supreme Court recognizes corporations as people, but I'm still able to make the distinction. Will I offer my identity (which they probably already have) in return for a sweepstakes entry or a 10% discount on some product I don't really need? Probably not. FB is clearly very exciting and innovative in developing countries, at least for now. If I lived in Indonesia, where FB seems to be a basic part of life, then I would surely sign up. From my perspective, though, FB's growth is in quantity of users, not necessarily in quality. Not a good sign.

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