January 07 2009 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Social Media Year: General Rating: 2
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg today announced that "150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day."
This brings Facebook to just over 2% total global penetration in just under 5 years time (the company was founded in February 4, 2004) and, based on the shape of this diffusion curve, confirms its status as a major Interactive Communication Technology, as defined by communication scholar Everett Rogers.
Furthermore, it lines up nicely with the history of ICTs, as demonstrated by business and comm professor Vijay Gurbaxani, in which the diffusion of subsequent ICTs gets steadily sharper (telegraph, telephone, web connections), which supports the conjecture that either Facebook, a mirror technology (MySpace, Linked In, Microsoft Live, Orkut, iGoogle), or a combination thereof (most likely) will quickly attain much greater adoption. Obviously this ongoing trend has some serious deep-rooted consequences for the near-term accelerating future.
Equally as interesting is Zuckerberg's observation that, "If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria."
While I'm sure the statement was carefully considered and is meant to innocuously communicate the significance of the milestone, it also reveals the immense power inherent in social networks. These structures are among the primary drivers of a flattening world, exerting change on existing culture as they permit a new form bonding across distances, generations and (in just a few years) across language barriers. As such, they are in fact a new type of Massive Meta-Nation that transcends borders and increasingly affects law-making, behavioral norms and personal identity (just as international companies have done for many decades).
Enter Serious Value Creation/Facilitation: If you think the Facebook and social networking phenomenon is just peripheral to real culture and business, you are dead wrong.
These virtual ecosystems are poised to gradually increase the speed and value of search through greater context, generate cash income for users, reduce the cost of communication and work, bring to life a digital reputation system, help generate better maps of individual and social behavior and provide structure for the web's transition to video and 3d. To put it another way, these structures are accelerators for our existing value generating behavior and will become increasingly critical to us over the next decade.
So, not only will companies like Facebook command billions of users worldwide, we should also expect them to command or envelop greater %s of the global economy, which will open a Pandora's Box of issues for existing sovereign regions and groups. Hence, it comes as no surprise that big-brained and big-egoed social network founders like Zuckerberg and Philip Rosedale of Second Life (who views SL as a little nation) are starting to compare these structures to existing nations.
Given this trend, perhaps one day we'll see a Facebook representative occupy a seat at the United Nations or some sovereign region. But only if he and his contemporaries can maintain the allegience of allegience of their prosumers and adhere to the Mandate of Kevin in the face of extreme competition, perhaps from open-source networks, or even large and small nations themselves.