Has Facebook gone too far? At some point, is there such a thing as "too much information?" One of the driving theories behind Ricochet is that sometimes -- maybe often -- people want to share and discuss things with a limited group of people. People who share a common world view. We don't always want to be debating the fundamentals all the time.
Facebook, for a lot of us, is an innocuous place for innocuous posts. Ricochet is a place for discussion and debate and community bonding. Those are very different things.
Mark Zuckerberg, the brilliant 20-something behind Facebook, takes a different view. From AdAge:
Remember Zuckerberg's Law? Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously articulated it at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in November 2008:
"I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before," he told the assembled masses. "That means that people are using Facebook, and the applications and the ecosystem, more and more." That simple statement was received as an oracular pronouncement in large part because various observers, including The New York Times' Saul Hansell, immediately dubbed it Zuckerberg's Law. It was an obvious echo of Moore's Law, the historical computing trend first described in 1965 by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore, who noted that the number of transistors contained on mass-produced chips -- i.e., computing power -- tends to double every year.
But there's a limit to sharing, isn't there? Especially now, when Facebook is everywhere:
...as ZDNet Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan put it in a post last week titled "iOS 6 Facebook Integration: A Frictionless Sharing Nightmare," the promise of getting to "log in to Facebook once and share away" without having to worry about launching an app, will soon result in way too many people who will "forget they're oversharing and ultimately have a cringeworthy event. ... Unless you manage Facebook closely, you'll wind up sharing more than you want. Aside from the obvious battery-life issues, the integration may encourage people to stay logged out of Facebook."
Zuckerberg might argue that the concept of "cringeworthy" oversharing is meaningless to digital natives, and that personal privacy/boundaries are fuddy-duddy notions that will diminish as everyone gets more comfortable with their lives becoming open (Face)books -- and as old fogies who still care about privacy/boundaries shuffle off this mortal coil. Fine. Maybe that's true. And maybe a lot of people won't log out of Facebook on their Apple devices for fear of oversharing.
Then what? Well, that's where the Law of Diminishing Returns comes in. Because a massive flood of new Facebook "shares" from iOS users will become a nightmare in another way: The noise will increasingly drown out the signal.
There's such a thing as Too Much Information. And maybe it's generational -- maybe younger folks are just used to sharing everything all the time. But what happens when they grow up?
How could a guy so brilliant not understand that his increasingly overshare-y Facebook is diminishing our collective capacity to focus on the stuff we really might care about in social media, let alone advertising messages?
I blame it on what I call Zuckerberg's Bubble -- not a reference to the current (and rapidly deflating, thanks to FB's IPO) tech bubble, but to the social bubble Zuckerberg has been living in since his Harvard dorm-room days, when he started monomaniacally coding Facebook into existence. When you're in college, and still trying to figure out your identity, you're almost hardwired to feel like you're being left out (especially if you're a nerd) of all the coolest stuff that's going on, both on and off campus. So you convince yourself that you actually care what all your friends and acquaintances are doing at all times.
And then you graduate from college and get a real job and start building your own family, and you suddenly realize that there's more to life than obsessing about what everyone else is doing.
More to life than obsessing about what everyone else is doing? Sure. But there's also a need -- I hope; it's the entirety of the Ricochet business model -- for a place where you know you're among like-minded folks. Where conversation matters.