Facebook is the next Google (unless they mess up.)

It’s a recursive old world we live in these days, in which ideas are put up on one blog only to be refined and realized by the next several blogs. I’ve been giving a building community talk that is starting to do what I want it to, i.e. connect theory and practice, and Josh Porter’s slides on slideshare had influenced my thinking. Now he reports on my talk, moving the ideas forward further still.

Different views of self We expose different views of self. Our home self, our work self, and services each represent a different view into our lives, different relationships, different interests. Our Facebook profile, for example, shows a different window on us than our LinkedIn profile does.

Interesting question: if all of our online profiles were added together, would it be representative of the *real* us?

(this is a very pertinent question given the recent claims that Facebook is trying to map *the* social graph…it’s not clear at all that anybody but a single individual knows the extent of their own social network….)

This reminds me I have not been a good girl and reported on one of the two things I found more revelatory at Graphing Social. Facebook is the next Google (unless they mess up.) When I saw them speak, I was really surprised at their point of view. They are obsessively driven to map the social graph. Your goal very much defines you as a company. Corporate missions are often doublespeak, but if you can take a mission and boil it down a sentence, like “making the world’s information findable and useful” then you can create a collective mindset that will move the needle. It must be big enough to be aspirational, small enough to make progress toward.

If Facebook’s mission is to map the social graph, they will have a data asset that they can monetize. They do not need to worry about missed opportunities enjoyed by the application makers, they don’t have to worry about an unclear ad business. Or at least, they shouldn’t (and their valuation certain suggests it’s a non-issue.) They will own a core piece of data that is so useful and more important, so novel that their business model should make itself visible as the Social Graph gets built. They are waiting for their adsense. Maybe, like Google, they’ll spot a company doing it half-right and because they understand the social graph they can connect the dots. Or maybe once they understand how people connect, a new model will become obvious.

Perhaps there is a very obvious 1:1 relationship between Facebook and Google simply in they are both mappers. What’s left then, to map out? It would be a good thing for a start-up to know.

I said one of two things… the second is not so big, but still very interesting. This new generation of developers are radically more user centered than any of those before. Slide, RockYou, and others hammered home over and over in their talks the value of both user testing and A/B testing. I know many larger corporations that can’t manage to do qualitative and quantitative research affectively, and here are these tiny companies launching products in a handful of days, and they manage to squeeze it in. As Porter (Michael, not Josh) says, “What gets measured, gets managed.” These kids have their eyes clearly on the end goal, and know how to get there: through the good auspices of their users.