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Summary:

Share and share alike. The Mark Zuckerberg philosophy now extends way beyond users’ occasional, individual sharing actions. Facebook wants u…

Mark Zuckerberg
photo: AP Images

Share and share alike. The Mark Zuckerberg philosophy now extends way beyond users’ occasional, individual sharing actions. Facebook wants users to share the whole of their lives, right down to the minutest detail, right back to their birth, and often automatically.

Facebook’s new Timeline redesign and Open Graph app platform are designed to get users to pump out more and more specific information about themselves – what they’re cooking, listening to, reading, how fast they’re running, any accomplishment an online game chooses to feed out; whatever actions developers can conceive to give users infinitely more granularity than “Like”.

All your stories, all your life,” Zuckerberg said, showing how the new Timeline can be retrospectively populated with content as far back as users’ birthdate and extends to reveal the whole chronological story of their life through photos and events.

No activity is too big or too small to share,” he added, illustrating how a new “reports” view can show his friends “everything I cooked in September” or his Nike+ running performance, for example.

For Zuckerberg, this philosophy has clearly become a kind of impassioned ideology. “Before today, there was really no socially acceptable way to express lightweight activity (on Facebook),” he exclaimed, as though addressing what developers and engineers might call a “problem”. “Now there is. This is going to make it easy to share orders of magnitude more things than before. We think that people are going to want to express all kinds of things about their lives.”

The recent consumer trend has, indeed, been toward more personal sharing and transparency. And Facebook has been working to improve privacy controls around that. But there are also some folks growing unsettled by Zuckerberg’s share-everything mantra, wondering whether Facebook ever stops to question the inevitability of the movement. And are we already witnessing the first few signs of consumers’ social networking fatigue?

Zuckerberg has come on leaps and bounds as a public speaker, and his slick F8 delivery was lifted right of Steve Jobs’ MacWorld playbook in a broadcastr event that was targeted as much at general Facebook consumers as the industry community. But when Zuckerberg speaks with such conviction about the new sharing agora, it’s hard not to interpret his script with a tinge of either menace or naivite. When he predicts with certainty how we will share our every eating habit (perhaps even bowel movement?) between geeky exclamations of “it’s really neat” and “it’s pretty cool”, some might wonder at the youth still at work.

Last year, we added nouns; this year, we’re adding verbs,” Zuckerberg said, as though releasing the latest beta software iteration of a product most people have used to communicate with for centuries. “I’m looking forward to my first eating ‘report’ when that comes out, that will be a lot of fun,” he added, leaving a gaping space where the irony might have been (there is, in truth, a growing trend online in lifetracking and Zuckerberg’s keenness to share his running records is testament to his part in it).

If the whole super-sized sharing plan works without hitch, the extra depth and knowledge of its users Facebook will acquire will be impressive indeed, putting it on a potential road to business maturity. For one thing, Facebook is now replicating entire disparate businesses, like Last.fm and Flickr, whose own audio scrobbling and photo albums respectively nowadays appear dislocated on their own private islands, as mere features of its own platform.

But Zuckerberg’s F8 made no allusion do any direct business benefit from any of the announcements, no suggestion of any advertising pay-off from all this new data.

It’s not a commercial decision,” Facebook’s EMEA platform partnerships Christian Hernandez told paidContent following F8, adding the whole idea was still about building out Facebook’s platform and engagement.

Facebook, Zuckerberg announced, is already up to 800 million users. Recently, it hit a fantastical milestone at which 500 million of them used the site on a single given day. That is extraordinary reach and engagement today, right now.

But Facebook seems intent on mining the minutiae of users’ lives before going big, fixed on marvelling at how its can rearticulate real-world social lives through its software engineering project, before growing up with the suits on Wall Street.

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  1. Aima Littetipot Friday, September 23, 2011

    Facebook is essentially a time sync, and a fad. Why a fad? Because sharing is not something we’re wired to do *all the time*. We get great benefit from sharing, *mostly* when that sharing is done altruistically. Facebook is about sharing the minutiae of life, which isn’t sustainable in the long run, The psychic payback from that quickly runs out. So what does Facebook do? It adds more “sharing” features, to keep the dopamine flowing. Eventually, the rewards to “sharing” in this way, diminish. At some point the entire house of cards that Facebook has built will start to collapse. Right now, they’re on a run; they are going to make a ton of money, but Facebook is not here for the long haul. Facebook, essentially, is about a lot of “me’s”; it’s not really about “you”. I’d love to own stock in Facebook, but don’t plan on keeping it into old age.

      1. http://www.globalpreneurs.com/new_backoffice/playback.php?t=NTMzNTIyMTQ5MzAwOTE4NTk1MDU3Nzg=

        Video Link Scope Of Work 9-25-2011 1:27 PM EST John Zarlino Internet Visionary

  2. At a minimum it will disrupt the “Online Legacy” business populated by a long list of start-ups and public subsidiaries like 1000Memories, LegacyLocker, ArcaLife, OurStory, MyFamily, i-postmortem (hate that name). I have a “Dunbar” quantity of Facebook friends – two of which are deceased. I wonder how that eventuality will be supported.

    SamBeal.com

  3. West Coast Thoughts Friday, September 23, 2011

    If Zuckerburg wants my life story then Facebook will be paying me cash for it.

    Who with any common sense is going to lay their life out for Facebook to utilize and then throw ad’s back at you with the data they just collected about you.

    Give you head a shake.

  4. Do not underestimate this step.  Facebook is working towards breaking down the barriers as to what content is, how it is delivered and how to make money off of it.  No doubt, by analyzing user behavior they will be perfecting algorithms to add other bits of content and on and on…

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