For anyone who ever really looked at the Facebook application development platform, it can be tremendously scary - there are so many possibilities with the Facebook platform. Right now, most Facebook applications are limited to “What type of Underwear are you?” and the various “Pet” applications on profiles. However, the Facebook platform is extremely versatile and - if enough developers take advantage of it - could spawn applications which will replace the rest of the World Wide Web as we know it.
How would Facebook aid in the congregation of the web? Here are some examples:
Doing Research on Facebook
In the past few years, online research is conducted in fewer and fewer ways:
1. Search Wikipedia - Wikipedia is a giant repository for human knowledge - there’s no need to search Google for small websites about Egypt if it’s all on Wikipedia
2. Search Google for Forum/Blog posts about the subject (useful for when you’re looking for howto guides, articles, or Q/A)
How would it work on Facebook?
What if you could search Wikipedia right within Facebook? Open up your application “Wikipedia” - and then search for articles. If you do article editing - no problem - your article edits would appear in your feed. Why go to Wikipedia.org if you can see what articles your friends have edited via the Wikipedia Facebook Application?
Blogging on Facebook
This is a no-brainier - many people are already importing blog entries into Facebook Notes. Myself? I’m using a handy plugin called Wordbook to link Facebook with my blog instead of directly importing them. Nonetheless, once more people go onto Facebook - why bother writing on your blog? Just blog directly on Facebook with the blogs application. How would people get RSS updates to your blog? Instead of RSS, people would most likely “Feed subscribe” - meaning that your new blog posts would go on their Facebook Feed.
News on Facebook
Online news has been growing at a tremendous pace - around 76% of 18-35 year old people prefer online news sources. How would Facebook fill that gap? In the same way as blogs - people could “install” a news app from New York Times, Google, or CNN, and read current news from their feed. The news widgets could even target news to the reader. If the reader is a 18 year old male who lists a lot of sports in his Facebook “Interests” - the news application could choose to post more sports articles into the feed. On the other hand, if the reader is a 40 year old middle-age woman, the news application could still effectively display articles to the woman’s interest.
Email on Facebook
Even though E-mail is not part of the World Wide Web (which only covers websites) - if Facebook gains dominance, it’s messaging system could effectively replace email. Why?
Many people receive spam on a daily basis - however, on Facebook, it would be much harder to get spammed. Why? Facebook only allows you to communicate with your “friends” - only people whom you want to hear from. Facebook mail isn’t cluttered by spam like email technologies. Users looking to escape the savage nature of e-mail would start using Facebook mail instead to message their friends - rendering e-mail obsolete.
In a sense, some of this is already happening - albiet on a smaller scale. Although Facebook will probably never replace the entire Internet, it’s scary seeing how much of it *could* replace the web - and what will probably happen to the Internet in some form or other within the next 20 years. A global login system, social actions, and everything - all from one site.