Is Facebook Feeling the Burden of Establishing Its Platform?

fbplatformSome upcoming changes on Facebook have raised a few concerns from developers, but users will probably give a sigh of relief. Not only is Facebook moving towards a more dictator-like policy with developer apps, but the company is also placing more limitations on application alerts.

The changes themselves will restrict applications’ ability to post in Facebook users’ notifications, which appear in the bottom left corner of your Facebook profile. Additionally, Facebook is reportedly tired of constantly updating its application policies and regulations, hence the move to a more subjective form of dealing with applications.

For developers, this means that they have less access to users. Several developers find that notifications are great ways to bring traffic back to their application, which is probably because notifications used to be restricted to Facebook alerts only, and they contain all of the important activity updates that pertain directly to you.

It’s understandable why users would be relieved with the updated terms, yet it’s easy to see why developers are worried about the ever-changing rules surrounding application interaction options within Facebook’s network. Changes on Facebook’s end typically means that developers are being further limited in some way, presenting new challenges at every turn of their Facebook-specific campaign.

What I found particularly interesting about these changes is the fact that Facebook is ultimately asking developers to seek other ways in which to interact with their users. Facebook’s decision to take a more subjective approach to developer apps coupled with the latest limitations for app alerts, I’m wondering if Facebook is starting to feel the burden of establishing a major platform standard.

As a company with a first mover advantage for socially integrated platforms, Facebook has been key in establishing standards for how similar platforms will work across the board. It’s platform has introduced a great deal of opportunity for the company as well as third party developers and marketers, as applications presented a new way in which to connect with users.

While the hope is that the recent Facebok changes will encourage developers to focus on quality interactions with users instead of the quantity of interactions, the fact remains that Facebook’s decisions ultimately have an effect on the monetization potential behind applications. This will trickle right back up to Facebook, as its ability to monetize its platform will be somewhat effected by this in the end. But the dedication to the users’ experience is a necessity for Facebook, and will likely help platform standards in the end.

Time will tell whether or not Facebook is handling its relationships with developers in the most ideal sense. Even as testing has gone on around a performance-based regulatory system surrounding an app’s ability to potentially spam users, spam always seems to sneak through anyway. Regardless of how Facebook feels about being a leader in the market, it will have to deal with its position one way or another. The ongoing tit-for-tat dance between spammier apps and Facebook won’t go away anytime soon.

Advertisements

Twitter Lists to Reestablish Microblog Credibility?

Twitter lists have yet to emerge from beta, but the world can’t seem to get enough of the new Twitter feature. Organizing a great deal of your content and contacts into well-organized groups, Twitter lists is a feature that has been heavily requested and highly anticipated for some time by Twitter users.

Though group organization has been available through third party Twitter applications for some time, the direct feature implementation from Twitter means that the feature will be more widely available to Twitter users.

The introduction of this feature also offers a glimpse into Twitter’s long term goals for the company. Not to say that Twitter updates are far and few between, but a company that has such a working relationship with a large number of developers has the ability to disrupt its own platform when introducing a new native feature. Whether it alienates developers by minimizing the use of their own application or distracts Twitter from its core competencies in its effort to maintain rapid growth, feature updates have become an interesting perspective towards the future of Twitter.
Continue reading

Teens, The Internet, and the First Amendment

first-amendment

Organizations don’t like it when you complain about them. Especially when you do so in a public manner–online. The matter of First Amendment rights in the online realm has been a hot topic for debate for several years now, and things aren’t cooling off.

As Helen A.S. Popkin mentions, the debate may actually be heating up. High schoolers and college-age students have a tendency to say their school sucks. It’s what they’re supposed to do. In retrospect we eventually learn to cherish the days of absent responsibility and channel the anger that thrusts us into independent thought. This even appears to be particularly popular in the U.S. But for some reason the Internet has brought about a plethora of new issues with which to discuss one’s rights to the First Amendment.

Call it cyber-bullying or chalk it up to adolescent defamation. The Internet has an odd impermanence about its ability to archive and retrieve data due to its sheer size, but putting your hatred for a school or a faculty member out into the world [wide web] can easily come back to haunt you.

We can talk about the First Amendment until we run out of oxygen to breath, but I’d rather leave that up to the courts. The fact remains that saying bad things about people and organizations can hurt their feelings and damage their pride. You can expect them to retaliate. In many cases, they retaliate with disciplinary actions, long-standing negative affects on their academic records, and lawsuits.

How ironic that high school and college students get to learn, first hand, about the ultimate case of payback when it comes to the expression of their First Amendment rights. Seeing the growing pains of self-expression play out on the Internet merely reminds me of the social strains brought about by new technology, its assimilation, and its eventual acceptance. This is all particularly poignant as it deals with new forms of communication, complete with widespread access to these new forms of communication, and the cultural implications that lie therein.

In the end, however, I think it’s important to remember that there’s nothing really new under the sun. Everything we’re dealing with has a core issue that has little to do with the technology itself but of human’s ability to coexist within a healthy social structure. There’s no reason for parents, faculty, attorneys or judges to scratch their heads at teenage social networking nonsense. Even in its early years, my mother recognized the fact that the Internet was yet another way for her daughter to communicate with the world, and that included the world’s individuals. Therefore, the same principles apply, regardless of one’s offline or online status.

It will still be a challenge, but any attempt to get this message through to teens and young adults will be gratuitous in the end.

Has Corporate Greed Taken the Personal Perspective Out of Blogging?

greedyHas blogging lost its personal touch? Blogging started out as an online diary, publicly sharing one’s life experiences. then blogging became a business, large enough to threaten print media as we know it.
What happened to all the personal blogs? Does anyone read those anymore?

Just as people once kept diaries through the days of discovery and exploration, the process of documenting one’s thoughts and experiences hasn’t really disappeared–it’s merely shifted. These necessities of human culture bend and evolve along with other trends and fads that define eras.

So what of those personal blogs? They haven’t disappeared, and we didn’t stop reading them. They’ve simply morphed into readily accessible, byte-sized status updates. In a word, microblogging.

It takes such a small amount of time to tweet a passing thought, making it immediately viewable and searchable to the world. to make the process of sharing one’s experiences even easier, we’ve begun to automate the aspects of that process that don’t even require thought. Your GPS location can be auto-posted on Twitter. A photo taken with a camera, mobile phone or webcam can be auto-loaded into Flickr. Your life, in digital form, can be synced across multiple devices and organized accordingly. This all makes for easy access of your life’s content later on down the line.

Yes, tweets seem simple and fleeting. Yet the presence of Twitter and the applications its platform supports are changing the way in which the globe communicates. It’s not that blogs are becoming less personal–it’s just that we’re quickly progressing the way in which we utilize and value the information we’re already sharing with each other.

Aside from the natural necessity to improve upon an established system, we also witness the corporatization of that system. As I’ve already noted, the once diary-like versions of weblogging have irreversibly been shaped int a string of commodities that are monetizable and support their own economic subsets. The same process will happen to microblogging, and it is already under way.

In order for a system to become a viable option made available to the masses, it must first be financially supported and sustained. Call it corporate greed, but certain aspects of a phenomenon such as Twitter would not be possible without the economic structure it both creates and advances from. The result is a mad dash from investors, analysts and users to figure out why something has become so popular, and how money can be made from that popularity.

The economy driven by a service like Twitter can be shaped into a force with some help from corporate omnipresence. Yes, such a corporate takeover could provide the incentives for global innovation within the microblogging industry. Just look at the battle going on between Facbook and Twitter, constantly reminding us that the implementation of an idea matters for more than coming up with an idea. In this way, the true value of a product of service becomes rather subjective, and the general public can oftentimes be more easily swayed.

Even as we shift from one form of journal entry to another, we find that the ability to share out thoughts is never lost. The corporatization of that thought-sharing has helped to change the way in which we blog over the past several years. We need to determine how much of the microblogging trend will be given to the monetization process, and how much of it will simply be used to share experiences with one another.