Tim O’Reilly (2005) says, "Web 2.0 doesn’t have a hard boundary, but rather, a gravitational core. You can visualize Web 2.0 as a set of principles and practices that tie together a veritable solar system of sites that demonstrate some or all of those principles..." (O’Reilly, pg1). Basically meaning Web 2.0 has not one specific definition and is instead combined through many different web technologies. For the past month I have chosen and closely observed a Web 2.0 medium called Facebook. This medium is a social networking site that allows online communities of people that usually share interest to interact with one another.
All new Web 2.0 technologies allow communication and it’s content to be completely user oriented. These web sites now allow users to do more than just retrieve information but now letting them control what is put on and in some cases taken off. It is meant to intensify proficiency of online communications and secure information sharing on the web. Online communities can now be found in different forms such as, social video sharing sites, wiki, blogs, and even social networking sites.
Facebook is a social networking site introduced to the web on February 4th, 2004. It is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. A man named Mark Zuckerberg started the site and limited the users to only Harvard University students where he also attended college, although now anyone with an Internet connection can easily join the site and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Only a valid email address is needed to sign up along with a bit of demographic information.
The site is set up and organized by where you live, work, what school you attend, and what region you are connected to allowing you to interact with other people. According to Wikipedia.com once on the site, "Users can add other friends, send messages to each other, and update their personal profile to notify friends about themselves." Although Facebook is relatively new to the Internet, it has become extremely popular and attracts users all over the world.
In order to show just how huge Facebook has become since 2004 I have found these statistics directly from the Facebook statistics site. Since 2004 Facebook has over 120 million active users and is the fourth most trafficked website in the world. Facebook is also the most trafficked social media site in the world (comScore). There are over 55,000 regional, work related, collegiate, and high school networks on Facebook and more than half of the users are outside of college. It is the number one photo sharing application on the Web (comScore). There are more than 10 billion photos uploaded to the site and more than 30 million photos uploaded daily. It is internationally known with more than 35 translations available on the site, with over 65 in development Platform. There are over 400,000 developers and entrepreneurs from over 160 countries and over 52,000 applications are currently available on Facebook Platform with, 140 new applications added per day.
Facebook has simplified their navigation system to give users easier access to its functions and applications. Its core functions such as Profile, Friends, Networks, and Inbox are located by links at the very top left of the user’s page. Applications such as Photos, Notes, Groups, Events, and Posted items are simply displayed on the left side bar, along with any specific applications that user has added to their account.
Any user of the web whether using Facebook or not is concerned with their privacy. Facebook’s founder makes sure that they give the people tools to control the information they share and who they chose to share it with. Facebook says they are TrustE certified and users also have the ability to share and restrict information based on specific friends or friend lists. It is at the user’s hands to control what kind of personal information they put on. For example, I have my very own Facebook profile. In my profile I could allow others to see specific information about me such as where I go to school, my home address, email address, cell phone number, and even more. There may be a slot for all this information to go into, but I can chose whether or not I want to supply that personal information to others. Facebook recently introduced users a function called the "Mini Feed". The mini feed allows users to see exactly what their friends have been doing, for example how they have been feeling and even who they have been keeping in contact with. The mini feed alerts you about friends that you would like to know more about and even some that you just do not care for. What many users do not know is that Facebook have a settings option. In this option you can control what type of information is displayed about you if you chose to have any at all. If you do not want people to see who you have been talking to or when you upload new pictures, then you simply chose not to in the settings area. You can also chose to see specific people every time they update or you can chose to see nothing at all. The best part, it is all completely up to the user every time.
Every person who uses Facebook really has their own specific reasons why they do. I personally use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family whether they live next door or if they live thousands of miles away. It is fun to look at pictures of everyone and see occasions that I may have missed out on. I love to go on and look at the new pictures from the night before. Facebook also makes it easier to keep in touch with a few of my friends and family who are currently serving in the war overseas. Speaking on the phone is not always easy due to the distance, money, and also different time zones. Facebook allows us to communicate when it is convent for the both of us. These are just some of my personal reasons for using the site.
Others may have different reasons to use Facebook such as meeting your peers, according to Cnet news it is not just for college kids anymore. Members are typically older and mature than on other sites, and there are more white-collar users. Also to find business contacts, not only are your friends on Facebook, so are your prospects, your customers, and your competitors. Facebook members are open to connecting. You can easily begin a dialog with highly successful and famous people that are otherwise unreachable. In a business retrospect it is useful to build relationships. It allows users to engage in conversations with your prospects and customers, you can better adapt your marketing and business services to meet their needs. By consistently showing up, posting relevant information, and being a leader, you can increase credibility as an expert in your area. According to International Herald Tribune you can also place targeted ads. With Facebook Social Ads, you can test out extremely targeted advertising for minimal cost. No cost of marketing. Aside from paid ads, Facebook is totally free to use and with regular activity you will end up with more traffic, more subscribers, and more paying clients.
It is clear that Facebook is a great social network for people of all different ages. If you do not have an account yet, I would recommend that you sign up as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you do have a Facebook account, you should start using it to your advantage. The ComAbstracts suggest that you start interacting not just with your high school buddies or your college friends and start with people that are within your field of work interest. Many people do get job offers just by using Facebook. Join groups that interest you as well as make friends with people that look good to know. It is important not to be shy because the purpose is to connect and interact with other members. With Facebook you actually have to market yourself to become popular. In most cases it is done with interaction, which I talked about above, but you can also do things like adding photos of yourself and other members. When you do this the other people that you tagged in the photo will get emailed, therefor increasing the number of people who see you on Facebook. EBSCO says some of the other things to consider are creating a group on Facebook as well as creating your own application, which could be distributed to all your friends. Another good thing would be to keep your profile up to date. If you do not keep your profile up to date it will start dying down. By keeping it up to date it will gain more traffic and more people will get to know you.
Web 2.0 allows users to connect to many different types of communication media on the Internet. Facebook being only one out of hundreds that you could use. My research shows that Facebook is the hottest social networking site around and it is growing bigger by the day. With 120 million active users and is the fourth most-trafficked website in the world it is expected to reach over 200 million users and just about reach the number one trafficked site in the world by the end of 2008.
Uses of Facebook vary from person to person but in the end people use it to as a source of entertainment. Looking at pictures and videos of your friends or your night at the bar, making silly comments about things you might not remember from the night before. Keeping up to date news with your family or to connect with people within your desired work field to look for open job positions or even to keep on top of your current events in the office.
Facebook is great but the best is that it is a Web 2.0 medium. It allows the users to be the voice and control the content that is on the net. The goal is to secure information sharing on the web and intensify proficiency of online communications. Tim O’Reilly (2005) does say that the Web 2.0 era lets the users add value. Therefore we control what direction Facebook and Web 2.0 will move in.
O’Reilly, Tim. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved August 21, 2008 from http://www.oreillynet.com/put/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html.