The Next Big Thing: Facebook Places

Another first in a series, this one’s called ‘The Next Big Thing’ because if you’re even vaguely into your digital media you’ll know how we’re constantly bombarded with new technology which we’re expected not only to embrace but also master.  I love it; part of the reason I’m doing this is because I’m excited by it all, and I’ve learned not to fear change, unlike some people I used to work with who will remain nameless.

Joe Sheephead Worsley fears change

I’m still not naming him.

Change is good.  And once you accept that you don’t have to master every new innovation and you don’t have to add every new app, it can be liberating.

So yeah, Facebook Places; last week’s Next Big Thing (I have been busy you know), or for those who don’t like change but who will remain nameless, ‘not another thing I have to get my head around; why can’t we just talk to people like we used to?’  The world’s tech bloggers have been hard at work debating the pros and cons of the social networking giant’s massive step onto the geolocation map since the launch a few days ago.  For my two penn’orth, I’m excited by it.  I’ve been reading that geolocation is the next big thing for a year or so and I love the idea of the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla, but until they pick up significant traction over here, they’re pretty limited in what they’re going to offer.  If none of my mates are telling me where they are (or maybe there’s a different reason for that), if brands aren’t bothering to offer check-in ‘specials’ or recommendations there’s nothing really ‘social’ about it.  I don’t particularly want to broadcast my location on Twitter for the sake of it because that’s dull for everyone else, but it would be a different matter if I had people in my network who might be interested.  I’m sure it’s a different case in USA where these sites have picked up a lot more traction, but over here at least, we have a way to go before geotagging becomes the norm.  Facebook have the clout and the members to bring this technology to the masses and I’m confident that Places will mark a new shift in the way we communicate.

If you’re not as geeky as me and you don’t know what it’s about, it’s Foursquare for lazy people.  And if you don’t know what Foursquare is about, check it out (and check-in) here.  I’m on there…here.  I have one friend which kind of makes my point about traction.  If you can’t be bothered to do the research, here’s the glossy promo video for Places.  All well and good, we get the idea, it looks nice but have you seen anything as cheesy as this since the 70′s?   The acting and directing are shocking; whoever thought that real, 21st Century tech-savvy Californians behave like this needs to take a long, hard look at themselves.  Check it out at about 30 seconds in.  Have you and your mates ever ‘hung out’ in a park like that, without attracting weird looks from Police Community Support Officers?  And how’s your baby going to benefit from using Facebook Places?

Maybe I’m being unfair.  Anyway, whatever the merit of the promo video, Facebook Places is huge news.  Perhaps predictably, many people chose to focus on the privacy aspects surrounding it but I really can’t be bothered with all that whingeing.  In fact I so can’t be bothered with it, I’m going to write a blog specifically about privacy issues when I get round to it.  And when I find the article I read in Wired about Facebook and privacy.  In a nutshell; get over it.  If you’re a member of social networking sites then I’m sorry but your privacy as you knew it no longer exists.

I was going to watch the footage of the official launch from Facebook’s HQ until I found out that it’s almost an hour long.  I did get about 10 minutes into it and gave up, but if you’ve got time to watch it, it’s here; let me know what it’s like:

Watch live streaming video from facebookinnovations at livestream.com

Aside from the launch itself, one of the interesting things to come out of this was the way the UK side of things was handled.  As usual, the technology has been rolled out in the US before we’re able to get our grubby mitts on it, so Facebook’s UK PR had a job on their hands answering initial questions from keen Facebookers over here.  These were expertly handled in a very modern and supremely efficient way on Twitter by their PR @sophysilver – and I’ve got to thank TNW’s Martin Bryant for bringing that to my attention:

The Next Web – Facebook Places story

Ok so I’ve waffled a bit but I’m new to this blogging thing.  The question is: is Facebook Places the new Facebook or the new Google Wave?  Let the debate begin…

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