Developing for Facebook

I remember falling in love with Facebook when I first became a user: it was very easy to use, uncluttered and such an amazing time saver. Additionally, you can log in any morning after a night out and pictures will already be online: enough to jog your memory of the night before. Anyway, I’ve now fallen in love with Facebook again: this time as a developer.

Recently a friend and I have been exploring developing Facebook applications. The best known Facebook applications are things like Scrabulous, Texas Hold Em, Superwall. Things like that: pretty banal and useless. Some applications have even been downright annoying – I got so much spam from applications such as Likeness, Super Wall, Funwall, Flixster, etc. that I’ve uninstalled the applications.

Anyway: this was our problem. We run a website for a local educational establishment. What we’ve tried to do is to improve two-way communication between students and staff. So we did the traditional thing: we set up a online PHP community – forums, etc. Unfortunately, it never took off. Why? First of all, it’s another URL and login to remember, it needs to reach a critical mass before it even becomes useful and it’s not exactly the first thing you’ll think of doing when you’ve got a web browser open in front of you.

Facebook already has a critical mass and networks and relationships to represent existing acquaintances and so on. In many ways, we’ve even switched to using Facebook as a communication channel for all social events because so many more people will see information about it. It also means not needing to visit another website, not needing another login, etc.

The next stage of this has been to develop a Facebook application to disseminate information but also to extend Facebook’s features. Facebook is fantastic, but it won’t let you see a list of people in your classes for example. With a Facebook application, this can be developed. Additionally, Facebook relies on “peer-to-peer” to distribute information amongst people. Somebody posts a notice or a photo, and then “shares” it with their friends using their wall, messages, invites. The advantage of having a central application is that staff could write a notice which is then automatically disseminated to all students without this peer-to-peer step. And it saves the embarrassment of having your headteacher on your “friends list”!

Of course, I can see this being a fantastic tool for alumni too. And it probably won’t be long until we start offering people $200 on Texas Holdem for inviting their friends to a school open day…

Anyway, I’m rambling. The beauty was how easy it was to develop for Facebook. It is in many ways an extension of everything I wanted Geneone to be: a platform for developing a community. But what Facebook has is an amazing worldwide community already there with one central login system and hub.

I see Facebook as a way to hook into existing relationships and networks from the real life without having to try and reinvent the wheel and to attempt to replicate them.

I don’t hesitate to suggest that Facebook will overtake Google as the web’s hottest property either in the next two years. In fact, screw the rest of the internet. Let’s build everything into Facebook. I’ve never been so excited about Web 2.0.

Predictions of 2007

I dug up my predictions for 2007 post from last year! Let’s see how accurate we were…

We see some real action on climate change. At the moment, we’re sleepwalking into disaster. Something has to change, and 2007 is the year.

I would say so. The Nobel Prize has been awarded to Al Gore and the IPCC, there was the Bali conference very recently where the Americans decided to join with the rest of the world in combating climate change. 

Windows Vista gets released but adoption is going to be slow as Microsoft isn’t communicating improvements in Vista particularly well to the normal person (yet, anyway)

Vista adoption speed is about a third that of XP, Dell had to bring back PCs running XP because of low demand for Windows Vista.

The death of personal blogs on sites such as Blogger and WordPress. Personal blogs integrated with social networking on sites such as MySpace and LiveJournal will become more popular.

Kind of; I’d say blogging seems to have peaked. People seem to be into microblogging these days e.g. Twitter, Facebook statuses. I haven’t seen anybody use Myspace or Facebook to blog though.

The blogosphere/"techies" will begin to turn against Google as they begin to expand into even more areas. Google won’t be getting the same stupid amount of attention they’ve been getting in the last few years.

Nope we’re still all over Google! Mind you, they release so many products these days nobody tries to follow them all.

VoIP won’t take off especially as almost every broadband provider provides free phone calls through your standard phone line.

I don’t think VoIP has hit the mainstream yet. I don’t know anyone who uses VoIP. However, BT Broadband now provide a VoIP phone to their clients as standard.

Video on Demand will continue to grow. It’ll make inroads into TV (Wii allows you to watch Youtube on TV for example) and possibly mobile.

Youtube is getting more popular by the day. In the UK we have 4oD and the recently launched BBC iPlayer – both of which allow you to watch TV from the last 7 days on your computer. I’ve only seen one person try to watch TV on their mobile phone so far.

Consumers will finally encounter DRM in more ways and turn against it. Similarly, record labels encumbered by Apple’s DRM will turn to selling DRM-free music.

Apple turned against DRM in April. Amazon sell DRM music. The record labels are all joining the bandwagon of DRM free music.

Apple becomes the new Google in terms of press attention and blogosphere attention.

iPhone, new iPods… enough said.

Even more crazy weather.

Yep… we had it all in Britain… the floods. 

Services such as Pandora and Last FM become more mainstream as they are discovered by consumers. These personalized radio services will eat into the market share of traditional radio services.

I don’t think online radio has made many inroads this year. Perhaps due to the increase in licensing fees in the USA.

Linux will still be going nowhere. There is no benefit to the average consumer and although free, the cost to the consumer is still too high.

Linux has started to go somewhere. Ubuntu is quite frankly, just amazing. And Dell are beginning to sell computers with Ubuntu pre-loaded.

Death of reality TV and manufactured pop stars; music returns to grassroots with sites such as MySpace and the internet.

Wishful thinking. Big Brother had loads of press attention with the racism row, X Factor got Xmas number 1 again…

People begin to realise the privacy implications of the internet and there will become a group of people who actively resist it due to privacy.

Some people complained about privacy on Facebook. I don’t think there’s any big movements against privacy on the internet as a whole.

Whilst "normal" blogs may begin to fade out, video blogging or photo blogging may take off. Especially with the ease of taking photos or making videos with mobile phones these days.

I don’t believe video or photo blogging has particularly taken off. People are sharing pics & vids more than ever though through social networking.

Explosion in even faster broadband in the UK. 10mbps or up to 24mbps could become the norm with LLU.

Up to 8mbps is now the standard connection speed in the UK through ADSL.