Facebook wall update coming tonight

A window on front of Facebook offices in Palo Alto

I met with a few people who work at Facebook today (my first meetings).

Learned some stuff:

1. Facebook’s first office was above Jing Jing in downtown Palo Alto, which Dave Winer made famous for Spicy Noodles. Of course we ate there and had Spicy Noodles.
2. The Facebook platform is getting a small update tonight (it’s updated once a week, I learned). Tonight’s update that developers will notice? That you can put different things into messages on the wall. If you haven’t visited my Facebook Profile yet, the wall is an area where you can leave messages for me and anyone else who visits my profile. Expected to come onto this? Music (iLike, last week, already added music choices to messages sent inside Facebook). Video. And other media types. The wall will be open to third-party developers to plug different media into and integrate into. This makes the platform integrate better into common pieces on the profile page. End users might not see a difference tonight, but developers will see new APIs. Developers should add the Developers Application to their Facebook Profile, which would bring you to the news about new APIs coming. To add the app, visit the Facebook Developers page and click “getting started.”
3. They are seeing a lot of growth. Both in usage, as well as employees. If you’re a hot computer scientist they are hiring.
4. They are continuing to move to a wider demographic than just college students, which should have been obvious to anyone who is following their moves over the past year. I told them that I have already seen that, most of my 3856 friends aren’t in college anymore. They are also taking over quite a few buildings in downtown Palo Alto near the Stanford University Campus (more than three buildings already, with more needed).
5. There is a limit to the number of friends you can have: 5,000. This is there because of technical limitations. After you reach 5,000 you have to remove someone before you can add someone else as a friend.
6. People with thousands of friends are called “whales” by Facebook employees. Only a small percentage of their user base has more than 1,000 friends.
7. They expect many more “useful” apps in the next few months. Apps aimed at just getting spread around (one I don’t accept is the Ninja app) are probably not going to be as successful as a new wave of apps that actually provide some value come on board (my favorite example there is the Google Shared Items App).
8. For employees who live within a mile of Facebook’s headquarters they subsidize your housing. Translation: if you hang around in Palo Alto chances are pretty high that you’ll meet someone who works at Facebook.
9. They are pretty careful about discussing future capabilities. I asked about new advertising platforms and other questions about the platform (like whether a new API would come out that would allow applications to talk with each other) and got “we can’t discuss future directions.”
10. The leadership at Facebook is young. I knew that since I remember listening to Chris Putnam’s music when he was 16 (he’s now one of Facebook’s best developers — his team built the video app, which is really awesome — and he just turned 21).

Anyway, I’ve come away even more impressed with the team here. This is definitely the most interesting company that I’ve met in the past few years and can’t wait to bring you more news from inside Facebook.

UPDATE: Some people are misunderstanding me here. The update will let users add new datatypes to their messages on Facebook walls. It doesn’t mean that apps will be able to write their own messages to walls.

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. 6. People with thousands of friends are called “whales” by Facebook employees. Only a small percentage of their user base has more than 1,000 friends.

    I reckon that makes me a minnow! ;)

  2. 6. People with thousands of friends are called “whales” by Facebook employees. Only a small percentage of their user base has more than 1,000 friends.

    I reckon that makes me a minnow! ;)

  3. Hey Robert,

    It would be interesting to see what Facebook does about setting up a tiered access system for friends that would differentiate levels of profile privacy between classes of friends: regular friends, coworkers, family, acquaintances, etc.

    I talked to Mark Zuckerberg about this at the NYC developers meetup last month and he speculated that friendships could have weighting system, so perhaps it’s something they’re working on.

    I think this would be overtly useful for someone like you with thousands of friends, but also for those of us with smaller amounts.

  4. Hey Robert,

    It would be interesting to see what Facebook does about setting up a tiered access system for friends that would differentiate levels of profile privacy between classes of friends: regular friends, coworkers, family, acquaintances, etc.

    I talked to Mark Zuckerberg about this at the NYC developers meetup last month and he speculated that friendships could have weighting system, so perhaps it’s something they’re working on.

    I think this would be overtly useful for someone like you with thousands of friends, but also for those of us with smaller amounts.

  5. Did you ask about the pending legal action against them (and their founder/CEO)?

    There are some pretty serious allegations (ethical if not legal) it seems.

  6. Anybody else worried about rubbish information overload on Facebook? I dont want my wall filled with spam from applications.

  7. Anybody else worried about rubbish information overload on Facebook? I dont want my wall filled with spam from applications.

  8. Brian: I didn’t bother asking a question like that. It never would be answered and if it were it’d be by a lawyer, not by anyone involved in the company.

    SoWhatChuSayin: Facebook is VERY concerned about Spam. That’s why they don’t have an open API to get into the contacts.

    How would such spam get onto my wall? Think about it. Unless you’re a friend you don’t have access (and anyone who spammed me would get removed instantly).

  9. Brian: I didn’t bother asking a question like that. It never would be answered and if it were it’d be by a lawyer, not by anyone involved in the company.

    SoWhatChuSayin: Facebook is VERY concerned about Spam. That’s why they don’t have an open API to get into the contacts.

    How would such spam get onto my wall? Think about it. Unless you’re a friend you don’t have access (and anyone who spammed me would get removed instantly).

  10. Brian,

    I didn’t, but it wasn’t something I was aware of at the time. For what’s it’s worth, Mark left me with a really positive impression. He was very open about sharing and discussing ideas and talking about the governing philosophy of Facebook.

    I don’t have the facts on what transpired, but I do think that the basic idea of Facebook (yet-another-social-network) is very generic, and it’s not worth much on its own.

    What they’ve built suggests a broad and long term vision, a core understanding of information architecture and social systems, and the ability to execute around those concepts. I don’t think any of those things can be stolen.

  11. Brian,

    I didn’t, but it wasn’t something I was aware of at the time. For what’s it’s worth, Mark left me with a really positive impression. He was very open about sharing and discussing ideas and talking about the governing philosophy of Facebook.

    I don’t have the facts on what transpired, but I do think that the basic idea of Facebook (yet-another-social-network) is very generic, and it’s not worth much on its own.

    What they’ve built suggests a broad and long term vision, a core understanding of information architecture and social systems, and the ability to execute around those concepts. I don’t think any of those things can be stolen.

  12. My point Robert is that I am already inundated with requests to add their applications. I must ignore about 10-15 a day in my notifications area. Very annoying.

  13. My point Robert is that I am already inundated with requests to add their applications. I must ignore about 10-15 a day in my notifications area. Very annoying.

  14. SoWhatChuSayin: I just ignore them and let them all pile up. No harm in that. Then pick off the ones you want to install and delete the rest.

    That “app spam” doesn’t get on your profile page, though. Only you see that stuff. And that’s not spam generated by a computer. That’s spam generated by your friends. Maybe you need better friends!

    By the way, I have almost 4,000 friends and I’m only getting two to five a day right now. You must have friends who are more into the stupid apps than I am.

  15. SoWhatChuSayin: I just ignore them and let them all pile up. No harm in that. Then pick off the ones you want to install and delete the rest.

    That “app spam” doesn’t get on your profile page, though. Only you see that stuff. And that’s not spam generated by a computer. That’s spam generated by your friends. Maybe you need better friends!

    By the way, I have almost 4,000 friends and I’m only getting two to five a day right now. You must have friends who are more into the stupid apps than I am.

  16. They need to jump on the “users aren’t just in college any more” lickety-split. It took me MONTHS to figure out how to join my alma mater (my graduating class of several thousand is poorly represented), and since the film school I attended doesn’t do alum email I’ll never be able to join that network. To me, that is their core functionality and they’ve borked it. Granted, it’s a catch-22 because you also don’t want just anyone to join these things. Like on Myspace, where you can pretend to be 16 when you’re 45.

    I’m starting to hate Facebook less and less every day. That’s saying something for this stubborn old mule.

  17. They need to jump on the “users aren’t just in college any more” lickety-split. It took me MONTHS to figure out how to join my alma mater (my graduating class of several thousand is poorly represented), and since the film school I attended doesn’t do alum email I’ll never be able to join that network. To me, that is their core functionality and they’ve borked it. Granted, it’s a catch-22 because you also don’t want just anyone to join these things. Like on Myspace, where you can pretend to be 16 when you’re 45.

    I’m starting to hate Facebook less and less every day. That’s saying something for this stubborn old mule.

  18. Well you probably have 4,000 geeks on your friends list who know better than to forward so many invites to applications.

    I have a couple hundred non geeky friends who this stuff is aimed at – and they take the bait.

  19. Well you probably have 4,000 geeks on your friends list who know better than to forward so many invites to applications.

    I have a couple hundred non geeky friends who this stuff is aimed at – and they take the bait.

  20. Robert,

    I think it’s safe to say that you have drank the Facebook Kool-aid in large quantities (overdosed?)

    While I appreciate your zeal for the net, the entire Facebook thing is really going too far. There are tons of interesting things out there besides Facebook, Google, the iPhone, and social networks.

    Why not cover a broad spectrum of things on your blog and expand your readership.

    Security, Linux, what geeks do off duty (besides computers). The list could go on and on. Bring up TV shows and movies without mentioning Tivo, Slingbox, etc.

    Just some suggestions. I’ve been a reader here since the early days and I like what you have to say, but, seriously, lately, all you’ve harped on is Facebook.

    Some of the news you’ve mentioned in the past is coming back. I’m not sure if you’re aware or not, but there was a great article on Jim Grey yesterday on Wired. There are so many things out there bigger than Facebook.

    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/15-08/ff_jimgray

  21. Robert,

    I think it’s safe to say that you have drank the Facebook Kool-aid in large quantities (overdosed?)

    While I appreciate your zeal for the net, the entire Facebook thing is really going too far. There are tons of interesting things out there besides Facebook, Google, the iPhone, and social networks.

    Why not cover a broad spectrum of things on your blog and expand your readership.

    Security, Linux, what geeks do off duty (besides computers). The list could go on and on. Bring up TV shows and movies without mentioning Tivo, Slingbox, etc.

    Just some suggestions. I’ve been a reader here since the early days and I like what you have to say, but, seriously, lately, all you’ve harped on is Facebook.

    Some of the news you’ve mentioned in the past is coming back. I’m not sure if you’re aware or not, but there was a great article on Jim Grey yesterday on Wired. There are so many things out there bigger than Facebook.

    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/15-08/ff_jimgray

  22. Robert — What strikes me is how young these guys are. The dude who leads the video team is 21? It is one of the most elegant and simple to use video apps you will find. It’s almost as if this group of young people represents a first wave of technoligical intuitiveness that will keep washing over us as more teenage developers bring their skills to the web space.

    I am curious – did you talk about RSS and how they view it? Why is RSS non-existent, except in the applications?

  23. Robert — What strikes me is how young these guys are. The dude who leads the video team is 21? It is one of the most elegant and simple to use video apps you will find. It’s almost as if this group of young people represents a first wave of technoligical intuitiveness that will keep washing over us as more teenage developers bring their skills to the web space.

    I am curious – did you talk about RSS and how they view it? Why is RSS non-existent, except in the applications?

  24. Robert,

    They’ll take the request from you more seriously than they would from me – please ask them to increase the customization for Facebook groups. It would be excellent to be able to add widgets/modules/apps whatever they’re called today, to groups, not just individual profiles.

    Cheers.

  25. Robert,

    They’ll take the request from you more seriously than they would from me – please ask them to increase the customization for Facebook groups. It would be excellent to be able to add widgets/modules/apps whatever they’re called today, to groups, not just individual profiles.

    Cheers.

  26. When I look at my Xing account – still of course my main network application for various reasons, I do have over 400 contacts in there. A bigger part of my linkedin / facebook contacts are not in this. I recently did a go through of all my contacts and I see that at least 75 if not more of my contacts are “real” contacts I have made over the years.

    I could contact them not as a dear friend at night, but i am able to contact them. There are still a lot of people missing I have not hooked up with yet or who are not online in this sense.

    It may be that this is not how everybody handles their contact life, but in my case I do say honestly: This is not a collection, but this is true network.

    [It helps to not only have one country as home base at hand of course …]

    I can see myself having 1K connections in my database and still have over 3/4 of them ‘real’ contacts, but even the other ones are at least good aquaintances.

    Do I expect everyone to work the same way? Au contrair. I find it great if somebody only adds real dear near friends and I am not disappointed when they do not connect with me due to that. I would be disappointed though if somebody like you would not connect with me. ;)))

  27. When I look at my Xing account – still of course my main network application for various reasons, I do have over 400 contacts in there. A bigger part of my linkedin / facebook contacts are not in this. I recently did a go through of all my contacts and I see that at least 75 if not more of my contacts are “real” contacts I have made over the years.

    I could contact them not as a dear friend at night, but i am able to contact them. There are still a lot of people missing I have not hooked up with yet or who are not online in this sense.

    It may be that this is not how everybody handles their contact life, but in my case I do say honestly: This is not a collection, but this is true network.

    [It helps to not only have one country as home base at hand of course …]

    I can see myself having 1K connections in my database and still have over 3/4 of them ‘real’ contacts, but even the other ones are at least good aquaintances.

    Do I expect everyone to work the same way? Au contrair. I find it great if somebody only adds real dear near friends and I am not disappointed when they do not connect with me due to that. I would be disappointed though if somebody like you would not connect with me. ;)))

  28. Maybe, Robert, just maybe, you could start a new blog. A Facebook-exclusive one. And keep blogging about the usual stuff here. After all, I can see this “Facebook fad” going months strong, if not years.

    But, on the contrary, I just hate these “let me teach you how to do your blogging” comments, so please feel free to disconsider this one as well. You wouldn’t be so successful if you didn’t know how to do this.

  29. Maybe, Robert, just maybe, you could start a new blog. A Facebook-exclusive one. And keep blogging about the usual stuff here. After all, I can see this “Facebook fad” going months strong, if not years.

    But, on the contrary, I just hate these “let me teach you how to do your blogging” comments, so please feel free to disconsider this one as well. You wouldn’t be so successful if you didn’t know how to do this.

  30. Also, as first time commenter, I’d like to have a little curiosity adressed: why do your blog support this bizarre Times New Roman thing? Is it on purpose? It’s so ten years ago! I’m not saying your should change it, but I did get a little surprised when I first checket it out, since I was expecting something more “modern”. “Web 2.0″, maybe.

  31. Also, as first time commenter, I’d like to have a little curiosity adressed: why do your blog support this bizarre Times New Roman thing? Is it on purpose? It’s so ten years ago! I’m not saying your should change it, but I did get a little surprised when I first checket it out, since I was expecting something more “modern”. “Web 2.0″, maybe.

  32. Fabio: I use your browser’s default font. I don’t set ANY font. YOU are in control of what font gets used here. Don’t like Times Roman? Change your browser’s default font to display whatever font you like.

    I do that for a few reasons:

    1. It leaves your browser in control.
    2. It loads faster.
    3. I like the “ugly look.”
    4. On some browsers it is easier to read.
    5. It matches Dave Winer’s blog.

  33. Fabio: I use your browser’s default font. I don’t set ANY font. YOU are in control of what font gets used here. Don’t like Times Roman? Change your browser’s default font to display whatever font you like.

    I do that for a few reasons:

    1. It leaves your browser in control.
    2. It loads faster.
    3. I like the “ugly look.”
    4. On some browsers it is easier to read.
    5. It matches Dave Winer’s blog.

  34. Robert what’s the appropriate way to define “friend”. I have been confused about adding people to facebook thinking Facebook seems to want me to really “know them” to add them though I already have some folks on there I have not met. I’d say the more the merrier, but that will get out of hand quickly.

    What is your rule for adding friends?

  35. Robert what’s the appropriate way to define “friend”. I have been confused about adding people to facebook thinking Facebook seems to want me to really “know them” to add them though I already have some folks on there I have not met. I’d say the more the merrier, but that will get out of hand quickly.

    What is your rule for adding friends?

  36. Joe: in social networks a “friend” is someone you want in your network. No more, no less.

    If you try to limit it to “real friends” you’ll be missing a lot of the power of these things.

    I wish they’d stop calling these things “friends,” by the way. Twitter has done just that. People in Twitter are “followers” for people who watch you and “following” for people you are watching. Much better name for these things.

  37. Joe: in social networks a “friend” is someone you want in your network. No more, no less.

    If you try to limit it to “real friends” you’ll be missing a lot of the power of these things.

    I wish they’d stop calling these things “friends,” by the way. Twitter has done just that. People in Twitter are “followers” for people who watch you and “following” for people you are watching. Much better name for these things.

  38. “If you try to limit it to “real friends” you’ll be missing a lot of the power of these things.”

    Hmm, conversley, you miss a lot of the power of these things when you base your friends list solely on real life, close friends. Facebook becomes a phenomenal tool, but just for a different purpose to what your usage is.

  39. “If you try to limit it to “real friends” you’ll be missing a lot of the power of these things.”

    Hmm, conversley, you miss a lot of the power of these things when you base your friends list solely on real life, close friends. Facebook becomes a phenomenal tool, but just for a different purpose to what your usage is.

  40. Robert that’s an *excellent* answer and I’m taking it to heart. I also prefer Twitter’s “social nomenclature” because it seems to match the way most of us are behaving in the social network space.

  41. Robert that’s an *excellent* answer and I’m taking it to heart. I also prefer Twitter’s “social nomenclature” because it seems to match the way most of us are behaving in the social network space.

  42. “Jing Jing which Dave Weiner made famous for spicy noodles”????

    Aw c’mon. This is such a narrow definition of famous. I can remember having Dan Dan noodles or whatever they were called at the time when Jing Jing was on University Ave in its original location. I recall eating them there with Peter Deutsch, Adele Goldberg, Larry Tessler and the rest of the PARC Smalltalk crew in ’80-’82. Does prehistory not count as fame?

    Or perhaps my memory is false, and it was the late 80’s Vivek, Dale, Jomei and the Tibco crew, or the early 90’s with Susan Angebrandt, Chris Kent and the DEC WRL folks or the Interval folks.

    But c’mon, history doesn’t start in the year 2000.
    Fogeyly,
    Marc

  43. “Jing Jing which Dave Weiner made famous for spicy noodles”????

    Aw c’mon. This is such a narrow definition of famous. I can remember having Dan Dan noodles or whatever they were called at the time when Jing Jing was on University Ave in its original location. I recall eating them there with Peter Deutsch, Adele Goldberg, Larry Tessler and the rest of the PARC Smalltalk crew in ’80-’82. Does prehistory not count as fame?

    Or perhaps my memory is false, and it was the late 80’s Vivek, Dale, Jomei and the Tibco crew, or the early 90’s with Susan Angebrandt, Chris Kent and the DEC WRL folks or the Interval folks.

    But c’mon, history doesn’t start in the year 2000.
    Fogeyly,
    Marc

  44. Yawn. More of the typical shilling from you Scoble. This kind of coverage is worse than Mashable’s lack of interesting news. There is a world out there outside of Palo Alto and Cupertino. Perhaps you should go discover it and enlighten yourself.

  45. Yawn. More of the typical shilling from you Scoble. This kind of coverage is worse than Mashable’s lack of interesting news. There is a world out there outside of Palo Alto and Cupertino. Perhaps you should go discover it and enlighten yourself.

  46. are there any websites out there that have stuff you can copy n paste e.g videos, pics, comments and put on to the fun walls and etc?

  47. are there any websites out there that have stuff you can copy n paste e.g videos, pics, comments and put on to the fun walls and etc?