Of Facebook, Gremlins and the "Bozo Factor"

August 28, 2007

Time magazine has an interesting article on why Facebook is the future of the Web. I wonder if Lev Grossman was reading about how Scoble is completely off his rocker (again)? Scoble has such affable charm though. As Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb would say, “I like his energy”. Scoble isn’t afraid to be wrong in a very public venue (especially if it brings him more traffic). Shrug. But back to the Time article. Facebook’s ignition hinges on the simple “sociomathematics” dating back to the BBS era, updated for the Web:

Bozo + Bandwidth = Troll

It all reminds me of the movie “Gremlins”. If memory serves, there are two things you never do to a cuddly Mogwai (sp?). 1)Don’t feed them after midnight and 2) Don’t ever get them wet. Facebook operates on the same principles – People are congenial and know the rules – feed your community with positive contributions and don’t be a wet blanket. The repercussions can be swift. As Time notes:

Unlike the Internet, Facebook is structured around an opt-in philosophy; people have to consent to have contact with or even see others on the network. If you’re annoying folks, you’ll essentially cease to exist, as those you annoy drop you off the grid.

The quality of the connections is what matters. Even the features focus on positive aspects of relationship building – sharing TV and movie tastes, music, and more. Want to know what people really think of you? Try “applications” such as the Honesty Box. Or if you’re a real fan of the office, trade Schrute Bucks. I love the Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey app. There’s even a site for rating these fun little apps called AppRate. These are all basically Widgets or Gadgets realized in a useful way.

The question is whether they can continue their phenomenal growth without succumbing to the fickle interests of a bite-sized society. Already some complain about the thirty-something’s and beyond that are descending on Facebook. Time makes a point that communities will self-select, regardless of age. It will be interesting to see how Facebook evolves over the next year.