Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Status of Facebook's New Look and Why You'll Be Thankful Later

I receive a request almost every day asking me to join a group against Facebook's new layout. There's no doubt about it, the social network has royally pissed off a lot of its core users. A friend of mine, an avid Facebooker, went as far as to say that the network has taken a significant step backwards.

I couldn't disagree more.

Granted, the folks at Facebook have done a poor job of explaining exactly why the changes have been implemented - but the social network definitely has an eye on the future. It's all about integration (my favorite word!).

In a previous post, I explained "lifestreaming", which is basically a tool that displays your activity across multiple social networks in a neat chronological list. Well, Facebook has jumped on the lifestreaming bandwagon, which is why the 'News Feed' has taken center stage on the homepage. Facebook now offers you the ability to import your activity from other social networks (and blogs) and display it on your profile.

Don't think you'll find any use for this function? Think again.

Over the next few years, more and more blogs, online stores, and run-of-the-mill web sites will begin to incorporate social networking tools. You think you're overwhelmed now? Believe me, you'll grow to appreciate a service that streamlines your online social experience. Also, you may not realize, but lots of web sites you frequent are already doing it - they just don't brand themselves as social networks. Amazon and eBay anyone?

So did Facebook programmers do all of this out of the goodness of their hearts? Of course not. By streaming activity from other networks and services, Facebook positions itself as the ideal one-stop-shop online destination. It's a win-win situation for the network and the user.

At the moment, Facebook supports about a dozen services, so the News Feed is not as robust as a typical lifestream service like FriendFeed. However, you can be sure that more services will be added over time.

Joe Says: Quit hating on the new Facebook layout. Change isn't always a bad thing. Just ask Obama ;)

This is Joe, signing off.

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