Wired looks at some of Facebook’s recent changes and future plans and summarizes their intentions:
Combined with other Facebook recent announcements — “friend lists” that help you classify your contacts into groups, a Ticker that gives updates from your cohorts as they happen, and changes in the newsfeed to make it more reflective of what your close friends are doing — Facebook is not so subtly doubling down on its ambitions to enable people to shed the pre-digital cloak of isolation and treat their life as a 24/7 reality show, broadcast to those in their social spheres.
Remember when Time named “you” as the person of the year for 2006, before Facebook had swept across the planet? Here is how the story described the effect of the Internet:
It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.
This is a more hopeful vision than what Wired offers where individuals can produce and star in their own reality show.
The fulcrum on which Facebook’s future might hinge is whether it is able to help people forge new connections or whether people continue to hunker down in their existing social groups. The desire that Facebook users would forge new connections is not surprising if you have read sources like The Facebook Effect that highlighted the company’s goals of opening up the world. While research studies still suggest that the majority of Facebook contact and relationships exist between people who already know each other prior to Facebook, perhaps this will change due to Facebook’s interface changes as well as the growing cultural acceptance of conducting our social lives through this online realm. Or perhaps we are destined to live in a world where our highest goal is to become individual celebrities.