Laughing at Facebook's "older" users

Over the weekend I saw the New York Times article about how college users of Facebook were laughing at those of us who are, um, “older.”

Scott Karp jumped in and cheered on that point of view and says “…the issue is that so many “adults” fell for Facebook’s ploy to convince them that they should adopt a toy built for college kids as a platform for their professional networking objectives.”

Ahh, but I was at Sun Microsystems in a meeting with some of their folks and some folks from Dow Jones. Interesting facts: more than 10% of Sun’s employees are on Facebook already (keep in mind that most of that growth started after the app platform was released just a few months ago). Same with Siemens. Same with Microsoft. And nearly every company I search Facebook for has thousands of employees: Lockheed Martin, which is where my dad worked for 30 years, has 3,700 employees on Facebook already.

Fred Stutzman puts the punctuation on these two articles, along with another one by Fred Vogelstein, with a post of his own titled “Opposing Opinions of Facebook.”

So, why the disconnect?

Well, first there’s some myths of business networking:

Myth One: that business networking needs to be cold and dispassionate.
Myth Two: that business networking never includes personal stuff like religion, sports, politics, or your favorite TV show or book.
Myth Three: that business requires a “networking” affordance.
Myth Four: that business requires getting rid of the college kids and their frat parties.

All of these are totally false. But lots of people believe them to be true, which is why we’ll see more articles like the one in the New York Times on Friday.

How will we know that the discovery phase of Social Networking is over? When we stop seeing these kinds of stupid rifts. Do we argue about whether it’s young or old or cool or smart to use a business card? No, I had them in college. I have them now. Never even thought of arguing about that. Someday we’ll just use Facebook and we’ll all get along. Until then, phhhhhhhhbbbbbttttttt to all you college students who think I’m ruining Facebook!

Content commodities

Steven Hodson is so bored with blogging that he wrote a blog all about it. Heh. I feel Steven’s pain. Instead of blogging about it I just hung out all weekend with my sons and a raft of great bloggers. You’d know that already if you read Twitter (the other way to spend time when you’re bored with blogging).

Which brings me to the title of this post. After reading feeds for the past few hours and doing my link blog I’ve come back to an observation I’ve made a few times over the past few months: great content is now a commodity.

We have too much great content. Heck, I’ve been slowing down my feed reading and blogging and I’m still awash in great content.

In just the past hour I’ve put up about 24 really good blog posts and I’m not even close to being through my feeds.

And much of what gets onto my link blog never shows up on TechMeme, Digg, Google News, Slashdot, or any of the other places that one can find aggregations of tech news and such.

So, now that we’re awash in great blogs and other news, what does that all mean?

Well, it’s getting harder to get noticed. I have seen this problem in companies. Where it used to be just fine to get one blogger to talk about you (remember how CoComment launched? I was the only blogger to do that and they got tens of thousands of people to sign up for their beta in the first day. Today, to get onto Techmeme you need to have dozens of bloggers writing about you. TechCrunch MIGHT get you that coverage, but you can’t count on that, so you need a group of blogs to write about you, all at one time.

What does it mean for bloggers themselves? Getting noticed is tougher. Which is why I am seeing more growth lately in Twitter. People want to be heard and what’s the most likely way that you’ll get heard? Join Twitter, where thousands of people are hanging out all day long? Or write a blog where you aren’t sure anyone even sees it? I see the answer, even though Twitter is causing its own commodification to happen.

One way I dealt with competing with commodity thinking? My link blog. I figure if everyone is going to write great content once in a while I might as well create a publication of my own. Turns out that has pretty good value. FastCompany is using it. It’s being reprinted over on Twitter, and on Facebook, and I’m finding some other venues to make even more value out of it.

Another way? Do a video interview every day. On Friday I put up a video with the CEO of who was getting ready for Demo when he came over to Half Moon Bay for a conversation about his project-management tool. It’s amazing the people I’ve met in a year and had conversations with.

I wonder who’ll come into my life this week?

Anyway, that’s just a long way to tell Steven that if you’re getting bored with all the noise then get out there and find some way to separate out the wheat from the chaff and/or find a way to bring more smart people into my life (and, hence, yours).

The hottest class at Stanford

Ian Hsu told me this when we were photowalking at Stanford: that the Facebook class is standing room only and that tons of people have been asking to get in and can’t. No more seats.

Anyway, Dave McClure, who also runs the Graphing Social Patterns conference that I’m speaking at (starts today) linked to a video essay by one of his students in the class about why Facebook works.

Speaking of Stanford this week I have some really awesome videos coming out of there (one from a doctor working on IT in the Children’s Hospital, one from a photo/graphic researcher, and one from the robot helicopter team). More later in the week.