What My Kids Tell Me About The Future of Media. In the post he analyzes the habits of his teenage children. From movies, to TV shows, to books and video games, he looks at their behavior to understand where we are heading. While this is of course a biased sample, the exercise is very insightful.There is a brilliant post on Fred Wilson's blog called
I had a similar idea independently. My sister Julia was one of the first users of Facebook. She is now a senior at the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and will be graduating in May. I thought it would be interesting to interview her about the Facebook and her experiences with it over the years. What follows is the 15 question interview.
When did you first become a Facebook user? I opened a Facebook account in the beginning of my freshman year of college. I think it was around December 2004. I first heard about it from my roommate. We were intrigued by its stalking capabilities and wanted to get in touch with old friends.
What are your typical activities on Facebook? I use Facebook to see what people are up to. I like to look through friends' photo albums to see where they've been and who they're with. It's also a nice way to casually message friends. I created a Facebook group for the Russian Club at Syracuse, so I just send out message blasts to the group when a meeting or event is coming up.
What is the social impact of Facebook? How did it change the way you keep in touch with your friends? When Mark Zuckerberg initially launched Facebook, everyone in my age bracket wanted to be on it. The first version didn't have any of the fancy applications and tools - we could just message, poke and befriend. It was too flat. Who cares how many friends you have on Facebook, it's not like you can DO anything with them.
When they started to add new features like the wall, photo albums, video capabilities, and groups, people became more interested. But then Facebook took it too far. Now I find Facebook to be a suffocating bombardment of useless applications and features. I prefer an older version of just the basics - messaging, walls, photos and groups.
Now I'm getting invitations to be join Zombies and Vampires, while attending Happy Hour (online). As great as it sounds to accumulate drinks from friends on Facebook, it's not still as good as having them [offline]! The latest upgrades on Facebook seem to be geared to a younger audience, which doesn't make sense to me, since nearly 71% of its users are 25 or older.
Facebook messaging is a more casual form of emailing. Private messages are quick and convenient, because they can be sent out to an entire Facebook group that is dedicated to a specific purpose. 'Wall posts' are fun and can be interactive. They allow users to not only message their friends, but are also seen by others - this creates a sense of voyeurism where people can observe/keep track of what their friends are saying.
What Facebook features you could not live without? Photo albums and tracking people's profiles. (I do it for friends and co-workers.) When I need to look someone up, I turn to Facebook to get their stats. Also, I like that it tells me when friends' birthdays are coming up, it's a great cheat sheet.
What features do you wish Facebook had? I wish someone of the clickable items could take me somewhere. It seems useless to have interest listed if you cant do anything with the books/ movies you click on.
What do you think of the Facebook user interface? I prefer the older version. This one is way too cluttered. The newsfeed is distracting/addicting/useless. I really don't care what Joe wrote on Jane's wall or which event Alison is attending next week.
How did the Facebook platform changed enhance your usage of Facebook? It didn't enhance my usage. With time, I find myself using Facebook less and less. I check it less frequently.
Do you have a lot of applications installed? How about your friends? I only have a few applications installed: photos, groups, events, widgets and video. Some of my friends go all out and install over 20 apps, so it takes about 5 minutes just to scroll through their profile. I find most of them are a waste of time.
Do you trust Facebook with your personal information? Yes. I don't add anything to my profile that I may find compromising or controversial. My only concern is that friends can post/tag pictures of me that I can untag but they will still be on the Internet. I don't think that's a good idea. I think when you untag a photo it should be deleted from the photo album.
What have you seen that people have shared that you found out of line? Pictures. I've practically seen soft porn on Facebook. I think it's tacky and juvenile. Facebook is a social networking site, not a porn site.
What sort of things would you hesitate to share? Pictures, address, phone number, current location - anything that's stalk-worthy.
ADVERTISING / SHOPPING
What do you think of Facebook advertising? Do you find Facebook ads more relevant than other online ads? I don't really pay attention to them. As horrible/cliche as it sounds... Being an advertising major I occasionally look at them from an analytical/professional perspective.
Would you purchase books, movies, or music if you saw that your friends bought them? What if you knew that they were getting commission every time you bought something? Sure. It wouldn't bother me one bit. It's the same as any other recommendation method. I think it's a good place to sell/buy. You see your friends are into it, so you feel the connection right there - it seems like a great time to make a purchase. If Facebook had this service setup, people could just go on to see what new songs their friends are listening to - one click and they can purchase the songs on iTunes, or rent new movies on Netflix, etc.
THE LONG TERM IMPACT
Would you still use Facebook after you graduate? I probably won't use it as heavily as I do in college, but I will likely keep my account for a few years after graduating to use it as a method of staying in touch with old friends.
Would you be comfortable using Facebook to connect with your co-workers? Sure. It's a great social networking tool.
Where will Facebook be in 5 years? If Facebook keeps trying to stick in useless applications to attract advertisers, it may sink. But if it allows users to go to iTunes, Netflix directly from their friends profiles, it may become the new social networking search engine that people use to filter through their friends stuff when they need advice about what to buy. If they include a feature like favorite stores to shop at. They could definitely expand on the possibilities.
Personally, I find Julia's answers very interesting. Granted she is only one user, but she has been with it since the early days, is a smart girl and is an advertising major. As always, we'll let you draw your own conclusion. What do you think about Julia's answers, are they in line with what the average Facebook user thinks? Do you agree with them? How would answer answer these questions? And speaking of the questions, what do you think of the ones that we raised?