The battle lines have been drawn. The weapons readied. The battlefield, full of the milling throngs of social network users, stills briefly as the combatants take the field. This is the new front in Google’s attempt to force themselves into every facet of the web. Google has entered in to the fray of social networking.
Since the news broke at the Virtual Worlds Forum about Google working with partners around the globe on a new virtual world, the pieces have begun falling in to place and more leaks have sprung. It seems Google is no longer simply helping us find what we need and selling ad space, it also wants a piece of the Yahoo! action by actively courting the social network scene.
TechCrunch announced that Google was going to confront Facebook’s dominance head on. Google is apparently at war with Facebook and their dominant position within social networks. What, there isn’t room for another large, global-reach company outside the Google empire? If it was a Yahoo! property, would it still be such a threat or is it the “loose cannon” nature of a company not controlled by one of the big search companies too much for Google to handle? Facebook has suddenly become the target of a company seeking to own the web.
It smacks of petty schoolyard antics. The geeks got cool and people crowded around them. Suddenly another group of geeks got cool and they gathered a crowd. The geeks at the centre of the older, larger grouping are now getting jealous and trying to make the other geek group change or shrink or something. I can just hear them all chanting “join us” as the leaders at the centre lay a series of elaborate traps designed to try and show how cool they are and how not cool the other geeks are.
People - please can we all just stop drinking the damn kool aid (acid laced or poison laced), down some jelly shots and all be friends. I like the green ones please. And there is no such thing as too much vodka. Seriously this is starting to look a bit like Google wants to be the biggest and best around and have all the press. This upstart grabbing some of their precious headlines must be stopped at all costs.
Google is a facilitator, and what TechCrunch suggested was about to be unveiled could be a brilliant bit of facilitating. The drawback is that they will open and facilitate sharing between a limited number of websites picked by them so just creating another “club”. Google trying to launch itself more in to the social sphere with virtual worlds and social networking facilitation seems like a step too far and one likely doomed to failure. Orkut will never achieve the standing of Facebook without massing investment of time, money and effort and I don’t see that forthcoming.
There are many reasons that Facebook is the social network of choice besides the ease of signup and use. Facebook lets me list my upcoming.org events, my twitter feed, my flickr photos, my techcrunch feed, my stumbleupon feed, and lots more. It enables me to segment my social communications away from my work ones and gives me a 10-minute break from my day withoug having to walk away from the office. It helps me find help when I need it, keep up on friends activities, and lets me broadcast to the world how chuffed I am that MY KID SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED! Facebook has already enabled me to centralise my social networks in a single place and while I haven’t been able to port my friends yet, I don’t necessarily want everyone I friended on upcoming to be my facebook friend.
I think Facebook might yet prove itself to be the next Google. A handful of formet Google-ers seem to think so. What remains to be seen is how much Facebook open up to virtual worlds and how integrated in to our lives Facebook can become.