Saturday, 13 February 2010

Me on The Economist on Facebook

If you happen to be my friend on Facebook you might have noticed I updated my status the other night to say I was off to read what The Economist had to say about social networking. Someone asked me what they said. I replied: nothing that I didn't know already. This post is intended to clarify what might be seen as both a sweeping and an arrogant statement!

I'm typing from our computer room in Klub. Around me are teens and twenties online. They all live in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and represent a mix of the different ethnic and social backgrounds of the city's residents. There are all on Facebook. I don't just mean that they all have Facebook profiles, they are all on Facebook now. While the whole world of the internet is at their fingertips they have all chosen the same destination. Well done Mark Zuckerberg.

The Economist says social networking dominance in Facebook's to lose. Experiences like mine help prove the point. It is an indicator of that all important ubiquity, and of its globalising potential, that I get notifications that these Bosnian social networkers have joined some of the same groups as Facebook friends of mine from the UK and the US. The Economist survey mentions the millions being made by Zynga through apps like Fishville. We see people here showing near-addicted levels of dedication to their vitual aquariums. They may not be contributing to the revenue stream but they're certainly part of the phenonenom.

Security and privacy are big concerns with the growth in social networking. For these users the biggest concern, other than understanding English-language prompts and navigation buttons, is remembering their passwords. This has lead to us offering our own secure storage device: the female mind. Without my wife many of them would be permanently locked out of their email, forever seperated from their precious pixilated fish. Clearly their desire to be connected is greater than their concerns about privacy.

Thanks to Facebook's strategy the site's main features are available in local language, as is the embedded advertising – although that only ever seems to be for online games or dating services. But that gets me thinking. In the days before Facebook apps we'd see people surfing around various disreptuable-looking online game sites, the sort with virus-laden pop-ups and adverts for Green Cards. Facebook by comparison seems like a safe place to be, not just for our computers but also, perhaps, for their users.

Genuine Green Card's may remain as illusive as ever but an real slice of online Americana has definitely arrived. It may be taking over but Facebook could be an example of American colonialisation actually making the world a better place. And for that we should be grateful.

2 comments:

Semir said...

Pozdrav,

Its weird reading a blog from an British ex-pat living in the city of my birth while I went in the other direction some 16 years ago.

Hope you're enjoying Hercegovina.

From sunny Edinburgh
Sem

WeDoAdventure said...

Thanks for your comment. Hercegovina is treating us well...and the sun is out here today!