As a little kid, I remember begging my grandmother for candy. She would always cater to the needs of my sister and me in this way. One day, I asked what her favorite candy was. She replied, "A Love Nest."
A what nest?
Well the Love Nest candy bar was the viral "share" of candy in its day, well deserving of a "like." It’s unique blend of fudge, caramel and nuts made it a break through leader.
Nevertheless, the Love Nest faded into history and was replaced by similar candy bars like the Baby Ruth and the O’ Henry. Many others followed suit.
Funny thing was, my grandmother continued to call all similar candy bars "Love Nests," even though that name had been forgotten.
We can say the same of many cars. My parents owned a Studebaker. This is a car manufacturer that once made horse pulled wagons, of all things. It made a successful transition to automobiles and was in business for more than 114 years. By the way, the term car is a shortened version of the word carriage, which has its origins in the Latin word "carrus" - meaning wheeled vehicle.
Many things remain with us from the past, but we don’t always know where they came from. What of Facebook then?
With Facebook gone public, I felt compelled to take a look at this phenomenon known as social networking, what it means to us as human beings and where we go from here.
There can be no doubt as to Facebook’s success. With the population of the planet approaching 7 billion and Facebook’s active users approaching 1 billion, what more needs to be said.
Why do we need social networking? Or do we?
As human beings we are social creatures; it’s in our nature. We group together as families and friends, and later as classmates and colleagues. We even reach out to those unknown to us in our communities, vocation and to those with shared interests. We express ourselves through art and share that expression of ourselves with others because deep down inside we are creators, we want to know others, and we want others to know us.
It’s a greater unity we seek, a glimpse of our truer nature. Most importantly, this feeds us more than just candy.
Even the most private of persons seek it. Although, they may not take to social networking sites like Facebook.
I have many friends who despise Facebook and its ilk. Some of this has to do with shyness or a lack of understanding. In other cases, they might be laggards, to use tech adoption parlance. Certainly, age demographics play a role. Still, we all want the same thing whether via Facebook or some other form.
The nature of the Internet is its versatility and power to carry information virtually anywhere instantaneously. In its early years it was created to share information. When the World Wide Web emerged, web sites became the front end of many a commercial and private endeavor designed for the government, the market, and private expression. Billions of pages now populate the internet.
Marry these two natures together and social networking is basically a no brainer.
I am a Facebook fan. Though, I wasn’t initially. At first, it all seemed rather pointless. Oddly enough, I really don’t remember the initial impulse that led me to social networking. I’ve given it some thought and it remains a mystery to this day. But for whatever reason, I signed up. In a matter of minutes, I discovered dozens of friends, many long forgotten, scattered all over the country… even the globe. It was joyful to catch up on their lives.
What followed was a learning experience. I learned about others for sure. Quite surprisingly, I learned a little about myself too.
It was visually inspiring, intellectually stimulating, funny, sad, and irritating. Even when messy, with all the irksome comments, privacy controls, bickering, bitter diatribes, opinions, and unwanted game requests, it became a kind of family; it was a kind of love nest unto itself.
But, what will become of Facebook? My answer is this:
It Won’t Last.
Take a look at Yahoo. It’s a shell of its former self. While it’s still has a considerable web presence and is a top search engine, it has not been able to provide… or lead.
Evolving technologies, modes of communication, cultural fads, legal aspects and many other influences will likely move Facebook along to the realm of history. It will become a Studebaker of sorts. Though, like the word "car," its legacy will remain with us… while many will not remember why.
Even though this won’t happen anytime soon, we are already seeing Facebook facing trouble with its stock value due to allegations about its revenue stream. Who really clicks on all those ads anyway? Or, am I being a laggard now, too?
Eventually, however, I suspect it may break up or morph into elements that cater to more specific interests while following the contours of emerging technologies and changing communication modes. There is no doubt mobile computing will be a driver too.
Perhaps, what will replace Facebook might be something related to the evolution and development of Web 3.0, or the semantic web as it is called.
Web 3.0 is touted to bring us a more personal web experience with its context aware searches. If it can be made to work as the claims assert, I see this as a preponderant force shaping the direction of web in general, and social networking in particular. We see something of this with iGoogle now.
What would interest me might be a service that provided a unified web experience – a complete online service where a person could host their web pages, blogs, links to the user’s web presence, and a way to set up profiles and social networking all at one stop.
Users could configure links between these aspects to include or exclude to their liking. This context aware service, leveraging Web 3.0 strengths, could keep track of your favorite sites, comments, searches, and many other interests to help you make better use of the web and join together with others, swiftly and cogently.
In this way, a cloud computing service in a Web 3.0 environment might permit a person to reach out to many specialized social networks without having to configure multiple profiles or deal with the privacy settings for each service.
What’s more, interests and searches could be integrated into social networking in a more robust way.
This could be closer to a true AI experience.
But, before you go worrying that the HAL 9000 will be speaking to you from your smart phone or home, enslaving you to ruin, Facebook will be with us for some time. It may be bought out, sold out, broken up, shrink under its current form or smeared out in some polyfurcated array, but we will continue to check in with our Facebook family for years to come.
But, I can say this with a high degree of confidence. Someday my grandchildren might ask me about my favorite form of virtual presence and I might reply, "Facebook."
To which they will say, "Face what?"