Facebook: A Series of Tubes?

TIME magazine’s recent article – “Why Facebook is the Future” – contains this excellent synoposis of what Facebook really is:

Facebook’s appeal is both obvious and rather subtle. It’s a website, but in a sense, it’s another version of the Internet itself: a Net within the Net, one that’s everything the larger Net is not.

And so, with that description of Facebook as “a Net within the Net,” we can’t help but refer to Sen. Ted Stevens’ definition of the internet as a whole to help us better understand what Facebook is:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f99PcP0aFNE]

Sen. Stevens’ speech was repeatedly ridiculed on The Daily Show and elsewhere by those  who thought it demonstrated a, well… less-than-complete understanding of the internet and how it works.Yet some of the chatter about Facebook and its suitability for business use doesn’t sound much more enlightened than either Sen. Stevens or Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, and her explanation of why U.S. students don’t know much about geography…
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww]

Using Facebook for business won’t “plug up the tubes” and get in the way of the personal messages you want to deliver. It’s also not just for college students; the 35+ age demographic is the fastest growing segment among its 35+ million members.

Sure, many of the applications developed for its platform are pointless diversions, but there are some quite useful ones. For example, file sharing applications like Files and MediaFire provide shared virtual hard drives for file exchange. I’ll be reviewing those in a future post. Both provide handy work-arounds to the file size limits most people have in their email, and without the complicated language of ftp servers.
Others have raised the red flags – or red herrings – of inappropriately personal applications causing embarrassment. For example, a SuperPoke user might inadvertenly slap, bite, kick or pinch a business colleague instead of poking.

Egads! The solution to that would be, “Don’t slap, bite, kick or pinch your professional associates.” Or don’t install SuperPoke. Or why would you poke a co-worker when you could send a message instead?

Others suggest that personal photos posted by others, which appear on your Wall or in your mini-feed, could be embarrassing. Those situations can be substantially resolved by adjusting your privacy settings for your limited profile and not showing your Wall or mini-feed to your professional colleagues.

For some people who wouldn’t think of using Facebook for business, the language I just used is foreign; that’s because they haven’t tried Facebook, and so they are making judgments based on rumor and hearsay instead of personal experience.

Facebook is an information-sharing utility. It works well for personal, diversionary pursuits, and it works equally well for sharing information and creating discussions of professional topics.

Just as the same internet “tubes” carry personal and business emails — and even 10 movies at one time — so can the same Facebook infrastructure facilitate maintenance of personal and business relationships without getting things “tangled up.”

And there are even some map applications that could help Miss Upton.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of seven, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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