Facebook generations

by admin on May 25, 2007

in Uncategorized

At the risk of alienating readers, I have a confession. I’m on Facebook. At 54 years of age you’ve got be wondering with Howlett has completely lost his marbles. If I have, then so has CNN writer David Kirkpatrick who shares my age. In his reporting about Facebook’s F8 (fate, get it?) event, he says:

…my 14-year-old daughter is appalled that I am a member of Facebook, and refuses to let me friend her, lest her other friends find out via News Feed.

The world may be flat but culture has distinct demographics. I joined to help research my piece about BBC reporting on Keele University and now I’m figuring out what to do next. To the plot: I am convinced now more than ever that the MySpace Facebook generation are going to obliterate a lot of what we understand about business today.

Much of what my generation of business people understand about business is based on applying command and control hierarchies that folk like my friend Sig Rinde abhor. I see Thomas Otter still clings to the idea, excusing himself on the basis ‘that’s what everyone still does’ theory. smile_whatchutalkingabout I’ll challenge that. Check out Dan Farber’s reporting on Facebook stats (abridged):

General Growth
• More than 24 million active users
• More than 100,000 new registrations per day since Jan. 2007
• An average of 3 percent weekly growth since Jan. 2007
International Growth
• Canada has the most users outside of the United States, with more than 2.5 million active users
• The U.K. is the third largest country with more than 1.4 million active users
• Remaining Top 10 countries in order of active users (outside of the U.S., Canada and UK): Norway, Australia, South Africa, Lebanon, Egypt, Sweden and India

Then set these data alongside what the Daily Telegraph is reporting about ‘silver surfers’ being attracted to my.Telegraph as reported by Steve O’Hear:

Some of our most active bloggers are in their 50s and 60s – a group that I think is under-represented in the blogosphere at large. There are more teenagers than I expected, too. And, of course, plenty of people in between the oldsters and youngsters. 

These communities are fostering a phenomenon that is tearing down the norms by which my generation have lived for many years. And with that comes new business rules. At one stage I worried that as youngsters progress through college and on to work they might drop their social networks as they come up against business run the ‘old’ way. But then I spoke with a partner in a firm of CAs today who had an ah-ha moment. He said:

You know there’s no reason why the principles of community should not apply to us as well. We’re constantly organising groups, re-organising them but we lose the knowledge that’s acquired along the way. Do you reckon a social network might help us?

Change happens one person at a time – in this case about 80 people at a time. I was genuinely surprised. I didn’t in my wildest imaginings think that a partner could readily envisage 100% adoption of this kind of technology to help the business move forward. the business need is there. All ‘we’ have to do is have the courage to pick it up and run with it.

Endnote: David Kirkpatrick’s piece is very long but packed with a ton of thought provoking facts. Well worth the read or, await the June 11th Edition of Fortune.

Comments on this entry are closed.

James May 25, 2007 at 10:50 am

You probably saw this one on the Beeb website Dennis but thought it worth flagging up – Rory Cellan-Jones proves himself unable to get to grips with the social networking generation.

Simon May 25, 2007 at 10:54 am

Me too! Recently registered on Facebook after I read someone relating it to LinkedIn, which I am also on. I got LinkedIn via one of the old JDE PR people, but I haven't found it much use.

Ali Choudhury May 25, 2007 at 11:34 am

I'm on both Facebook and Linked In. Both are great tools for catching up with and keeping in touch with old friends and classmates, and checking out the past careers of people you know professionally but vaguely.

My younger brother refuses to friend me on Facebook though as he says the more ignorant I am about what he's doing, the more blissful I'll be.

James May 25, 2007 at 11:41 am

That's nothing Ali, my girlfriend refuses to friend me as she's been on Facebook a lot longer and says that it's 'her' thing!

Stuart Jones May 25, 2007 at 5:58 pm

You're braver than me Den. At 53 (yes, a year younger) I think thought I was too old.

Facebook can have unexpected consequences though. My youngest son is a captain in the Yorkshire Regiment in Iraq. For the last eight months he has been telling his mother that because he's with headquarters he isn't in any danger. That was fine until she was told there was a photo of him on Facebook standing outside Saddam Hussein's palace in Baghdad!

He's already delayed his return once since she found out!!

Dennis Howlett May 25, 2007 at 6:41 pm

You can't get enough of networks. Or rather I can't. I guess in this case, your lad is more afraid of mum than insurgents. Sounds like a very sensible young man!

Krupo June 10, 2007 at 8:02 pm

One of the most remarkable stats is the number of firms that have BANNED facebook from their internal networks. Here's a fun thought piece for you: which firm will end up a better and more productive place – the one that bans it, or the one that allows its employees to use it? The side-points are whether it'll harm productivity or not – but honestly, people find all sorts of ways to waste time online – why should fcbk (my preferred abbrev) be special?

Dennis Howlett June 10, 2007 at 8:06 pm

I've just done an update referencing Andrew McAfee who reflects what I think is a more thought provoking view than those who knee jerks.

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