Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I have come across two articles in the past few days on CNN and the NY Times that talk about the problems that both facebook and twitter are having with growing as quickly as they both have.

The NY Times article by Brad Stone discusses facebook's growth in terms of numbers, and in terms of growing pains. It covers the recent controversies with users over advertising and terms of service, and quite aptly speaks about how users are in a unique conundrum: do they stick with the technology that they have learned to love even though they don't like it as much, or do they leqave it, causing a void in their lives that never existed before? It seems that the former is winning out.

It is also interesting when they quote a facebook executive saying facebook is, "not a democracy." I thought that was the underlying philosophy behind all of this new, user-owned media. But apparenty it is "to build an Internet medium for communication," and about the creators and keepers of the site, "we think we have enough perspective to do that and be caretakers of that vision." It is also interesting when Stone covers how facebook is breaking down traditional, sometimes arbitrary boundries, like those between parent and child, and how this may cause said kids to leave when their parents find pictures of them drinking.

The CNN article discusses a more technical aspect of Twitters explosive growth, showing how it is often overloaded with traffic and shuts down. This is a bit more straight forward with the exception of the "early adopters" angle: basically that the early adopters of Twitter are getting annoyed with new users.

It is not lost on me that both articles are published by large, traditional media outlets. Is this an underhanded attempt to chip away at facebook and twitters' collective popularity? Probably not.

It is also interesting to me how both articles cover how these technologies are changing behavior, as that is the topic of the blog. What it does not do, however, is form a value judgement on whether it is for the better or for the worse. I guess that is my job, so here it is (and it is not a new point to be made):

I think both have tremendous potential to help us along in our quest to work better and connect more deeply with our friends and family...as one interviewee in the Twitter piece says, "we are humans, that is what we do." But I am not sure it is great if this is replacing good old face-to-face time (see my post from yesterday). What I found fascinating is at the close of the NY Times article, when one user talks about the new kind of pressure she got from friends when she quit facebook in frustration. Ms. Doherty states, "Everyone has a love-hate relationship with it. They wanted me to be wasting my time on it just like they were wasting their time on it."

Maybe that answers my question.

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