Is Facebook evil? Maybe. Is Facebook evolving the web? Most definitely. NY Times, you’re way off.

by Jeff Hilimire on May 16, 2010

The debates about whether or not Facebook is “evil” for its recent announcements continues to rage on.  It’s being discussed and dissected everywhere, including within this blog’s community.

The NY Times doesn’t know what its talking about, or at least Randall Stross doesn’t

Good friend and blogging bada$$, @tobydiva, pointed me to this article on the NY Times entitled, “World’s Largest Social Network: The Open Web“.  The author, Randall Stross, is way, way off.

He opens by saying that Facebook wants to give people the power to share and make the web more open.  Not up to speed on the changes Facebook announced? Check out this excellent post on WelcomeToJmart. Then the author says, “But the online world outside of Facebook is already a very open and connected place, thank you very much”.  Uh, no its not.

We haven’t even started to realize the power of the “social web

Just because many sites today have a “share this” button on them so you can push content to your social networks, does not mean we’re even close to reaching anywhere near the potential of connecting the two major components of the Internet: People and Content.

Just to clarify one more time, I’m not talking about whether Facebook is moving in a scary direction regarding their power if they pull this off.  Nor am I talking about the security concerns with moving people’s personal data outside of Facebook and onto the open web.  We can continue those conversations here.

I’m talking about the unbelievably massive shift in the way we’ll use the web after Facebook’s new platform takes off.  To write a post on the NY Times claiming that we essentially already can do everything Facebook is claiming they want to allow is an extremely uneducated view of what’s happening.  And I’m kind of amazed that anyone can make that claim.

The possibilities are immense (and no, they aren’t possible yet)

Tell me, Mr. Stross, how can I currently go to and see that my college buddies all read a piece on UNC Charlotte’s upcoming basketball team?  Or that one of them is reading it at that very moment, allowing me to read alongside them and talk about the team?

Today, how can I go to and, while researching digital cameras, see that 8 of my friends just bought the new Canon that I’m looking at, and only 2 of them actually recommend it?

While looking at to see which movie I want to see tonight, how can I easily know that 4 of my friends just went to see Date Night and got out of the movie 5 minutes ago, and they all hated it, saving me the mistake of going?

You can’t.  But with this move by Facebook, these types of things will be possible.  And these are only very simple ideas of the power of connecting your social network with the web’s content.

The future is bright and to say that we’re already there is extremely short-sighted.

  • Andrew Jones

    You ask: ” Is Facebook evolving the web? Most definitely.” I agree, but not necessarily in a good way. My fear is Facebook remaking the web into this homogenized thing that lacks any spark of creativity or originality. All clients will want to do is “make it more social”.

    Maybe I'm thinking of this wrong, but I'm feeling less and less like a “web developer” every day. Is that a bad thing, necessarily? Maybe not, but I'm leery of where Facebook is leading us all.

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