Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Dear Mr Zuckerberg - MyTop - It could be you!


I'm sure that being a multi billionaire at the age of 23 means that you are unlikely to take any advice from a guy who seems constantly to be referred to a "veteran IT analyst". What you have done with Facebook is remarkable. There are many other social networking sites on the internet but it was yours that moved from being something applicable only to the under 30s into the mainstream. Indeed, over 40% of your users are over 35 and your biggest growth area is in us 'Silver Surfers'. Your early fans who joined up a couple of years back when they entered college are now probably appalled to find that both their mother and grandmother are on Facebook - as well as the CEO of the company they have just applied to join on graduation!

The Facebook you developed is slick, fast and looks good. Your 'inspired' decision to open it up to apps developers means that users have a fantastic range of addons. For reasons that even you probably don't fully understand, your users have accepted that they should use their own names and identities and obey reasonable rules of etiquette. Long may that continue!

But, Mark, Facebook has the potential to be as big, if not bigger, than Google or Microsoft before it. Recently I wrote an article (see below) and gave a presentation to the UK ICT Leaders on the progression from Desktop>WebTop>MyTop. Desktop was Microsoft. Webtop is Google and the MyTop crown is up for grabs. It could be yours!

But to gain that title, Facebook has got to embrace all the facets of ME.

Let me give you a simple example - and suggestion. Recently my daughter posted a picture on Facebook of me in a Lycra suit when I went diving. It was to protect me from the jellyfish but was probably the most embarrassing picture of me ever! I'm happy to share that with my family but not the UK head of EDS who also just happens also to be one of my Facebook friends.
On the other hand, my daughter is pretty uninterested in my (or, indeed, anybody's) views on BPO.

So why can't I have friends in different categories - Eg Family, social friends, company colleagues, business contacts etc. When I accept them as Facebook friends, I specify which 'type' they are and they only have access to the appropriate part of my Profile and associated 'news updates' Surely that would be ever so easy to implement?

You see, you might then be on the route to me setting Facebook as the successor to my WebTop - MyTop - and running everything from you. At the moment, it's Google who have that honour. Google could be just another Widget on my Facebook MyTop. Indeed, I could use Facebook as access to my Knowledge centre, my data, my apps - as well as all that social networking stuff. I could use it for my news feeds and as my entertainment player. iTunes and iPlayer could be yet more widgets.

Indeed, if you did that, I could have a MyTop that followed me around. Just log in on "Any device, Any time, Any where" (Holway's ultimate Martini Moment) and up pops MyTop and away I go!

If you did become MyTop you could stop dreaming of Facebook being worth $10b - it could be worth ten times that! But if you don't build MyTop - someone else will and then I will abandon Facebook. You see, unlike what many think right now, I don't think I can afford the time to maintain lots of profiles on different social networking sites. I want just one.

And, to steal someone else's catch phrase - It could be you!

Kindest regards

Richard Holway (veteran IT analyst from the UK)

1 comment:

Gary Barnett said...


Interestingly, I draw a similar picture, and share your concerns about having lot of information about me available to lots of different people - And I also share your growing frustration at having to maintain so many personae..

But if you want to promote real networking and collaboration, you have to provide a whole lot more than just a place to post stuff - One of the appeals of facebook is the ease with which third-party applications can integrate with it - It's just a shame that no-one's built a facebook whiteboard, idea vault etc etc...