I struggled with the title for this post. I wanted to call it “Facebook is a Seine Net for People” but that is the worst title for a blog post ever. I figured nobody would know what the Hell I was trying to say. Which I suppose might still be true.
I started writing this post a few months ago, after spending way too much time being completely wrecked by jetlag and not being able to sleep in Dublin, Ireland and also trying to decide if I was going to attend my 20 year high school reunion after receiving the invite that week. I ended up not making the reunion (too much travel) but want to finish my thoughts on the experience related to the reunion.
It struck me after getting the invite to the High School Reunion (Evergreen High School, Vancouver, Washington, class of 1988) that this is likely the last time my friends from High School won’t be aggregated and assembled for me for a 10-year reunion. It’s the last time I won’t easily be able to keep in touch with them, from now until the end of my life. Never again will we accidentally lose touch with people; unless we want to (we all have some of those, er, friends). It’s a great example of the evolution of technology.
Because Facebook is a Seine Net for people. Which as I’ve said I am certain is the worst analogy you could use in a blog post, but that’s the image that I am stuck with in my mind. One big net, scooping up all the people and putting them in order…
10 years ago, in 1998, on of my best friends, Greg Boesel and I had to organize the 10 year reunion for Evergreen High School. Way back in 1988, he was President of the Class of 1988, and I was Vice President. Our other friend Tom Miller was Treasurer, and we ran as The Three Amigos as a ticket, and threw burritos to the crowd of constituents.
10 years later, when we then had to organize the 10 year reunion, the Internet was barely adopted (circa 1998), and we had to manually send out postcards and started the process with a 10-year old hardcopy list of everyone’s contact information, that I think we had leftover from high school that was printed out on one long sheet of dot matrix printer paper. Those were The Days. The reunion went off without a hitch as I recall, but we really didn’t keep in any better touch with the people over the last 10 years then we did in the 10 immediately years after high school. Of course we said we would, and then we didn’t. Or at least I didn’t. And they didn’t with me.
This year, the same company that did our 10 year reunion recreated the list from the data they had 10 years before, and they are leveraging some very rudimentary web technology to do it. But since this year’s event, nearly everyone is on Facebook (or will be) and we’ll now always be aggregated so that at the 30 year reunion, we’ll have kept in touch more and also be assembled and organized for future events. I’ve already connected with at least 20 people from my class in 1988, that found me on Facebook after one of the attendees got things started by patching the social graph back together. And they’ll see a newsfeed of this post on Facebook.
People talk a lot about the interconnectedness of the social graph, but I haven’t heard many people talk about its sustainability. This sustainability will be important, because it will create significant efficiencies in the world. For example, I just helped one of my classmates from High School get connected with some job opportunities at Microsoft. Because of the recent connections we made on Facebook. This created efficiency for him, but also for Microsoft because I delivered a viable, executive level candidate right to them.
Now here’s the big idea in this post: think about how efficient business and the world would be if all the people were perpetually better organized and all their related data and those interconnections were constantly organized by a (very much larger) Facebook. Everything goes faster and is more efficient when it’s tagged and organized. People. Business. Dating. The Talent Marketplace. High School Reunions.
Really think about that for a moment:
Right now, there’s estimated to be something like 6.7B people in the world. If we exclude third world countries that are not as active in the world economy, that leaves about 3.5 or 4B people that are really participating and engaged in the world economy. Facebook currently has 120M users (probably more), so they’ve already indexed 3 to 4% of all the economic participants. This to me sounds like a lot for a company that’s only been around a few years.
So maybe it’s not a seine net for people, but Facebook, or something like it, will be around for a very long time, helping all the world’s people do things faster, cheaper, and more efficiently, by scooping up all the people, and getting them organized.