You've heard of it, you know of it, you've used it and lets face it, you're addicted.
You wake up in the morning and check your status message that says "is going to bed". "Well, I'm up.." you think and that's exactly what goes up as your new status. At work, you're constantly Finishing Jobs and Fighting other mobs on Mafia Wars. An occasional comment on someone's wall, or a birthday wish is just routine. Back home, online again, checking who's sent you a friend's request, what groups to join, what cause to support although you know you're never going to do anything practical towards it.
I repeat, face it, you're addicted.
And why not? Internet social networking was the latest buzz few years back, and today it's literally booming, with it being the simplest tool to stay connected with the hundreds of people we meet and who would most probably be forgotten by the time the earth turned a full circle. It has allowed us to build strong yet volatile bonds with our acquaintances in a virtual world where everyone's close to everyone else and we have all the time in the world since the whole point of having a "wall" or a scrapbook is for others to leave messages for you to reply at your leisure. This ease of communication and lightened burden of expectations to reply promptly has made Online Social Networking an integral part of our cyber-persona as well as, today, our physical self. We simply cannot resist it.
Why? you may ask. Well, to know that we have to dig deeper into the history and mystery of Internet social networking and for that we shall be taking the help of our friendly internet drug, Facebook.
Quoted from the ever-helpful Wikipedia:
"Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with fellow computer science major students and his roommates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University. Website membership was initially limited to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It later expanded further to include any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over."
It's pretty evident that the popularity of Facebook grew not by online or advertising media but by Word of Mouth Marketing.
"Oh you know, I've joined facebook, and it's so much better than orkut! You should try it too!"
That's exactly how I came to sign up with facebook and back then it didn't disappoint at all. Today, Facebook boasts of more than 175 million users online. And the fact is, this user base can be built up by any random social networking site too. But the user-loyalty that was built by facebook was phenomenal. People shifted from Orkut to Facebook practically overnight and stuck to it. That doesn't, by any means, mean that they stopped using Orkut. Oh no, not at all. Man's need to stay connected surpasses that completely. Even as students, actually, I should say, MAINLY as students, we have friends actually categorized as "Orkut Friends", "Myspace friends", "Facebook friends" et cet ra.
Facebook is a user-based, user-supported site. And it's popularity grew by leaps and bounds during the nascent stages and initial years because of the one thing that appeals completely to me and millions of other similar users that is: simplicity. Yes, simplicity was the core selling point that built up the popularity of Facebook. It was hassle-free registration, clean profile-page, no application clutter, the works. Something that it shares with another uber-friendly and intuitive site group - Google. Google, since it's lauch, boasted of an intuitive clean working system, something it has managed to uphold over the years and for which it earns accolades for each application it launches. For them it was and always has been "Less is good" and that's something facebook grew on as well.
Then Facebook started to really "grow", and they changed the profile displays, added applications, modified layouts and all in all, royally messed up all that they had built their site upon. As this site started gaining popularity, the market started encroaching upon user space. Advertisments galore generates income for Facebook inc. so they were glad to oblige(obviously!) In this epic transaction, we users started losing out.
This site has completely revamped it's look 4 times with each time getting worse! More and more content is making our lives miserable! Who wants to know every single quiz a friend has taken! Too many feeds make for information OVERLOAD! The latest Facebook layout mod clearly shows that. In a survey conducted by the company itself, just over 5% of the nearly 800,000 respondentssaid they liked the new layout
(don't know what they were thinking when they liked it! Frankly, don't care. We're winning! Woohoo!!)
The simple clean look of facebook which essentally was it's sex appeal, has completely disappeared. So, with feeds and applications and what not cluttering up our space, what we're looking at is just another social network, nothing special. The addiction that drew us to this wonderful social network is slowly waning, and that too without rehab treatment. I'm hoping to goodness they overhaul this layout too, and revert back to something that even remotely resembles the old look.
Are you listening Mark? GET A DESIGNER!!