Pushing The Envelope, Not The Share Button

Step 1: Facebook does something.

Step 2: Everybody freaks the fuck out.

It’s been just over 5 years since Facebook first unveiled the News Feed. The song remains the same. 

This weekend’s Bitchmeme centered around Facebook’s new automatic or “frictionless” sharing. It already works with services like Spotify and Rdio and publications like The Washington Post and The Guardian. And it’s about to come to a lot more places. 

Depending which article you read, this is either: a) the end of sharing b) the end of Facebook c) the future. As always, most critics are leaning towards the former, more cynical options. 

Everyone should quit Facebook.

Again.

For real this time though

LOL.

The reality is what it has always been. Facebook is pushing the envelope. Companies that push the envelope take a lot of shit. That doesn’t mean they’re always right — often times, they’re not. But it does show that they’re unafraid, unlike most companies out there.

The peculiar thing is that “playing it safe” is also why companies stagnate and slowly die. They’re too afraid to disrupt what’s working so they get disrupted. Facebook is clearly not one of those companies. And I think that’s great. And it should be celebrated.

Instead, the cynics come out. Oh no, I’ll never find anything useful again!! Facebook just took the pure sharing stream and puked in it!!! 

Come on, do we really think Facebook didn’t think about this stuff? It’s clearly the reason Ticker exists. The algorithms will be refined and refined again until passive sharing is perfected. Human nature is reading something and wanting to talk about it. It’s not reading something and then clicking a button while coming up with some pithy or profound statement in a (probably) lame attempt to engage people. 

Worse, the fear mongering comes out. Ahhhhh, sharing what music we’re listening to and what we’re reading without having to click a share button?!!!! AHHHHHH!!! Everyone will know! We’ll be found out! Big Brother isn’t just looking over our shoulder, he’s sitting on our lap!!!

Count me with Josh. As I wrote back in September after this year’s f8, the future of sharing is not hitting a share button. That’s the past of sharing. The future is having things shared automatically and you deciding what, if anything, shouldn’t be shared. 

To most people right now that sounds terrifying. But take a step back. It sounds terrifying in 2011. Will it sound terrifying in 2016? I doubt it. It will probably be the norm. 

Think about it this way: what would Facebook look like to people in the 1980s? Scary as all hell. Some sort of stalker bulletin board. Better yet, what would the Internet look like to people in the 1950s? It would look like aliens took over our planet and hooked us all up to some privacy-sucking machine. It would look like The Matrix

Times change, people change, culture changes. Not overnight, but over time. It’s the reason why pushing the envelope is controversial. Someone has to take that first step and do something different. Without that first step, there would be no progress.

Again, that’s not to say that Facebook makes all the right moves. They have had plenty of missteps. But they’ve remained ahead of the game because some of their moves pay off. The important thing remains that they’re not afraid to make those new moves. 

Yes, frictionless sharing looks overwhelming to some. To others it looks creepy. To me it looks like progress for those exact reasons. 

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  1. make-a-million-dollars reblogged this from parislemon
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    Thoughts from Techcrunch’s MG Siegler on...subsequent knee-jerk reactions
  3. sheepfarm reblogged this from parislemon and added:
    MG Siegler. An interesting post
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