Reading List: The Facebook Operating System

The Facebook Operating System: The New Yorker profile of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is mostly getting attention for her take on the role of woman in Silicon Valley. (Sandberg thinks women need to be more assertive to get ahead.) Another reason worth reading the profile, which doesn’t contain much news, is for its a succinct explanation of why Google is so freaked out by Facebook. Facebook executive Chris Cox imagines a day when people turn on their TVs and are greeted by a notification that 19 friends liked Entourage that week and that three are watching it now. That, in a nutshell, is Facebook’s promise. Where Google would see a mess of information — like the slew of programs on TV at any given time — and rely on computer algorithms to figure out the best match for individuals, Facebook wants to do the same with people power. As detailed by writer Ken Auletta, the bad blood between the two Silicon Valley giants continues to boil as they fight for the pole position as the operating system of the Internet. New Yorker

The Shrinking Web: It had to happen at some point. The Web is contracting a bit, at least if you count Facebook as a parallel universe. Wetpaint CEO Ben Elowitz muses on All Things D about what this means. The big takeaway: it’s not good for Google. The world of search is built around “the document Web,” which is currently giving way in the forefront to the connected Web. The means less reliance on SEO and Adwords, and more on getting people to share your content and, in effect, endorse it. That’s a pretty exciting development for publishers, who for years have been held at the mercy of Google and the link leaches who repurpose original content and make sure it’s SEOd to death. All Things D
Google’s Facebook Assault: Google is certainly not standing still while Facebook links the world’s population. It keeps trying at social networking, most recently with Google+. Dan Light, writing at The Idea is the Format, thinks Google is onto something big. He sketches out a scenario in which is Hotmail, fat and happy and unready for the innovations spurred by Google’s Gmail. It’s a compelling comparison, particularly around spam and user experience. But Facebook isn’t Hotmail, not by a long shot. Microsoft bought Hotmail for $400 million in 1997, just a year after the service launched. Facebook has remained independent and has kept innovating. In fact, Facebook got out its private Groups product well before Google got around to Google+, which has private sharing as a key feature. The Idea is the Format
Rethinking Privacy: Facebook’s top threat is probably not even Google, but missteps when it comes to privacy. The sharing and oversharing that are now endemic to digital media bring up thorny issues over what rights people have over their personal information — and whether they have unrealistic expectations of privacy. At GigaOm, Eric Lagier points out this is mainly a problem of different social networks defining privacy differently. What exactly is a friend in a world where a person has over 1,000 on Facebook? Lagier thinks nailing that down will allay many consumer fears. GigaOm
Stat of the Day: Every day on Twitter, people write the equivalent of 8.163 copies of War and Peace. CNN

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