Facebook’s Director Of Engineering Talks About Location, Context, Future

By Justin Lafferty 

Location has increasingly become a key tenant of Facebook, especially as the site grows on mobile. Users love to check in to cool places and take photos, giving Facebook some context as to what a person is doing. Robert Scoble, the startup liaison officer at Rackspace and social media expert, sat down recently with Facebook Director of Engineering Mike Shaver to talk about how important location is to the site, as well as how the company will adapt with emerging technology.

Scoble approached a variety of topics with Shaver (and also spoke with Sam Lessin, Facebook’s director of product), such as how Facebook complements real life and how the site tries to make sure that users see the content they want when they just quickly check the site.

Shaver talked about how Facebook tries to optimize its news feed to show users the content they’ll like and engage with:

We talk about relevance, but we also talk about impact. How can we make the next five seconds of looking at Facebook the most valuable? How do we make the next five seconds of the things you could see of your friends most valuable? I say sometimes that Facebook is built on the like button in that it is a very good way to give a piece of feedback that says, “I enjoyed the thing that you put up, I appreciate it, I saw it.” You don’t have to think about how to say, “I liked it.”

Scoble also talked with Shaver about how Facebook adapts to changes in technology, as what’s popular and utilized now will not be the same in a few years:

We’re a mobile app now; we’re a mobile company. We still have some traffic to our website, and we look at our products and, if we have a great experience and we can’t deliver it through one of those two channels, we will invent or find a channel for those things. The engineers here will only be too excited to learn how to make best use of that technical channel. We’re really at the point now where we’ve proven that we can adapt a dramatically new engineering stance to deliver what is fundamentally the same product, the same service, which is to say the same social experience … You’re on a screen in a car, you’re being projected on the moon, whatever these pieces are, Facebook is the value you have from the interaction you have with your friends at that point, and we’ll put that on any device — analog, digital, chemical, whatever it takes.

The full interview is here.

Readers: How do you think you’ll be checking Facebook 20 years from now?

Image courtesy of Robert Scoble.