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What could you do with a billion Facebook "Likes?"
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  numerati facebook business_analytics
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the next version of the social site's platform this week. The changes may be written in PHP, but you can sum it up in one simple word: "Like."
Starting very soon you're going to see the Facebook "Like" button on almost every site you use. "Like" something you hear on Pandora? That click gets fed to Facebook ."Like" the dessert at your favorite restaurant or those new Levi's jeans? Facebook will know that, too. "Like" is now the most powerful word on the web. The "Like" button will be the common action Web designers and users alike engage in to build what Zuckerberg calls the "Social Web."
This next version of Facebook Platform puts people at the center of the web. It lets you shape your experiences online and make them more social. For example, if you like a band on Pandora, that information can become part of the graph so that later if you visit a concert site, the site can tell you when the band you like is coming to your area. The power of the open graph is that it helps to create a smarter, personalized web that gets better with every action taken.
Over on Slate, Farhad Manjoo has a particularly prescient view of the changes and what they might mean for anyone working with data. Here's a sampling:
What makes Facebook's "likes" any more powerful than those other icons? A couple of things. First, Facebook is staggeringly popular. Its growth curve resembles that of a nuclear chain reaction just before it reaches critical mass; it has 400 million regular users, and not only does it keep growing, it keeps growing faster. What's more, Facebook members are ferociously active—they can't stop clicking around Facebook and the rest of the Web. Every month, people on Facebook collectively share 25 billion links with one another...In just the 24 hours since "like" buttons began popping up on sites like Slate, Facebook estimates they will get 1 billion clicks.
And that's the second part of this story: Every one of those "likes"—a billion statements of preference every day, 365 billion every year, at least—will get filed back at Facebook HQ. It is difficult to underestimate the value, to Facebook, of all this activity. Remember that the social network already has the world's largest database of connections among people. Now, very soon, it will also have the largest database connecting people to the things they enjoy, whether those things are news stories, restaurants, songs, books, movies, jeans, cosmetics, or anything else. Yes, lots of other firms mine our online activity, but Facebook's system will be all the more powerful because it is voluntary. We, Facebook's hordes, are actively filling in the slots in its database, giving the company an extremely accurate picture of ourselves and our friends. No other company will have anything like Facebook's towering database of human intentions and desires—not even Google.
Right now, we can't possibly imagine all the great things that can be
determined from this data, just as it was impossible to predict, at
Google's founding, that the company could one day use our search queries
to forecast flu season. But brilliant innovations are surely coming. In
particular, all this information will help Facebook and third-party
apps tease out relationships among people, real-world items, and
specific pages on the Web. Armed with this data, we can expect better
Think you have more data than you know what to do with?
(Or read my earlier post on The Numerati)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons