I do this too much – post something short, as a note to myself and all of you that there is way more to say, then end with “I’ll say more in the next post.” Then I get busy and forget about that “next post” thing, and start posting on other stuff. What I really meant was, “in my next post on this topic.”
Hope that clarifies things.
OK. So what was I talking about when I wrote: “Facebook had a “malfunction” today that reset all my email notifications. All of a sudden, I am getting Facebook notifications in my email inbox about all manner of things.
A conspiracist will claim this was on purpose. I’ll explain why in the next post”?
Well, as many of your comments pointed out, both on Twitter and here, one could argue that this particular malfunction really helps Facebook – I’d wager that many folks, like me, turned off nearly all our email notifications way back whenever we set up our original Facebook account (mainly due to all the stupid app spam), and that has led to some problems when it comes to dealing with upstart, competitive services like Twitter.
What do I mean by that? Well, let’s focus on Twitter. Every time someone new follows me, I get an email from Twitter. It’s pretty much the only way I can find out who’s joining my “social graph” on Twitter, and it drives a lot of traffic back to the site (to find out who the person is, read their tweets, then wander around and see what’s going on, read replies, maybe tweet a bit, etc). Facebook, on the other hand, keeps your new friends in a queue you can check in on every so often, and all the platform app spam (“You’ve been bitten by a Vampire!”) led me and I suspect a ton of others to turn off nearly all email notifications. Even when I do get notifications in email (I only got notices when someone “friends” me), I don’t usually go back to the site -I know I can deal with that in batch mode later.
In short, Facebook is not a network driven by ambient awareness, it’s more batch mode driven. And I have come to this startingly obvious conclusion: Social networks driven by ambient awareness will win. And, by the way, so will search solutions that can deal with ambient awareness – AdSense ain’t there (yet – more on that in later posts, but that is a big big deal).
Because Twitter is an ambiently aware network, mail from Twitter means a lot more to me than mail from Facebook. And given that folks at Facebook have been staring pretty hard at Twitter lately (a $500mm deal was lost last week), well, as I said, a conspiracy theorist might find it far too coincidental that Facebook recently reset everyone’s email notifications.
Having cleaned up the platform mess and focused developers on applications that add long term value to the Facebook ecosystem (more on that here), it is certainly time for Facebook to start acting, well, more like an ambient network. That means, among many other things, communicating again in a meaningful way via email. I have found that I have not re-configued my email settings since they were reset for me, and further, I have found that the emails coming from Facebook are pretty useful – for example, I never knew, before, when someone posted on my wall, or sent me mail inside Facebook mail. Now I do.
This is another step toward Facebook doing what Mark Zuckerberg talked about in our interview at Web 2 earlier this month – pushing Facebook out of its own domain and into the web itself. The issue, however, is keeping it two way – I can make Twitter my Facebook status front end, but I can’t Tweet inside my Facebook status or see Facebook responses to my Tweets inside Twitter.