Recently there has been a ton of hype surrounding Facebook, similar to that of which we saw during and immediately after Google’s IPO. What I have found to be particularly interesting is how much hype the new Facebook development platform has brought while Google’s startpage that allows open-source embedable widgets received significantly less hype. The only distinction that I can draw is that Facebook is about people whereas Google is about users.
Google develops extremely useful applications for people to communicate with each other and become more productive. Facebook on the other hand helps users to tell the story of their lives from within the public domain. While individuals have had the ability to do this for years through blogs, newsgroups, and bulletin boards, social networks have taken this to a new level. Now with the release of Facebook’s new development platform people have the ability to rapidly pick and choose applications that help them to express themselves more effectively and help to define their individuality. In contrast to Google’s startpage that only allows the user to customize their page to their liking for only them to see, Facebook lets people show off their uniqueness to the world.
There is a valuable lesson in all of this. There is a ton of money in developing platforms that make it easier for people to express themselves quickly and easily. Following this thread I can imagine the future value of virtual worlds such as second life where users can pick and choose everything down to their clothing, height, etc with the click of a button. Life is a story. Those applications (software as well as physical devices) that make it easier for people to share their story for others to watch unfold will be the ultimate winners when all is said and done.