How the age of Facebook will be different – and how it won’t be

I found myself distracted for a good hour yesterday wading through the comments on a post on the popular tech blog TechCrunch from a couple of months ago entitled, ‘The Age of Facebook.’ The blog’s author, Michael Arrington, declared that the web was entering a phase where Facebook would be the dominant force.

In 2008 it was clear that Facebook had taken the first step and changed our culture, possibly permanently. But it wasn’t at all clear that they would create the massive revenue streams to allow them to effectively dominate tech culture.

Fast forward to today. Those questions have been answered. Facebook is profitable and probably is running at a billion dollar plus revenue run rate today. They have 400 million users and 500 million people visit the site each month. Only Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have more monthly visitors than Facebook. And only Google has more page views. And they aren’t done growing yet. In a year they will likely be second on the list of unique visitors. In two years, they’ll probably be first.

Their domination was only accelerating, said Arrington, in the wake of the introduction of the ‘Open Graph API’ and its trojan horse, the ‘Like’ button.

The fact is that Facebook is permeating the Web. Publishers, us included, are clamoring to organize our websites in ways that please Facebook.

Their vision of an open graph of people and things (with Facebook at the center) is becoming reality, and debates by technologists won’t changes that. Facebook is taking over our identity and we are going along with that happily. It will take a new technology paradigm to disrupt what Facebook is doing.

Arrington’s right, of course. But the web being dominated by a single company isn’t new.

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