Thursday, September 22, 2011

93%


So – the rules say back up your statements with valid, verifiable, empirical data, engage in the process of codifying theories postulated from reproducible experimentation, and don’t make broad generalizations.  Naturally I’ll probably break most of those rules before my word count hits 500 words.  I will not tell you that 93% of the people who read this will not forward it, nor will I ask if you’re one of the 7% who will.  Those are made up numbers.  They are about as scientifically reliable as Obama’s economic recovery numbers.
Do you remember the PEANUTS comic strip in which Lucy is waxing eloquent through a list of ‘little known scientific facts’?  Brother Linus then asks Lucy how, if the aforementioned data are in fact ‘little known’ did she happen to come by the information?  “I make it up.” Is her smug reply.
Only about 7% of the world’s population is even aware that the other 93% is as clueless as a blind man judging the swim suit competition.  Yeah, I just made that up, but 93% of you will believe it because you will have read it on the internet, which, as we all know is never wrong, or sat least only 93% wrong 7% of the time.
Here’s my take on it.
It’s all about demographics.  I don’t have the empirical data to show you, but I’m willing to bet Zuckerman and ‘friends’ – friends in this instance being the deep pockets behind Facebook - spent far more money in the last twelve months researching demographics than they did in researching Facebook ‘improvements’.  That big overhaul you woke up to yesterday? (and by the way, the flashing traffic sign – photoshopped or not – is still the best one so far).  Hold on to your booty, boys and girls because in the words of the guy on late night TV hawking those razor sharp Ginsu ® knives, “But wait – there’s more.”  Facebook news reports yesterday said that the shock and awe makeover you woke up to was merely the beginning.  There is more to come.  A lot more.
Why, you ask?
“Because”, Karmac the Magnificent responds.  “Because I can.”
As is the case with this humble scribe, most of you who will actually read this are NOT Zuckerman’s demographic.  We who know that ‘you are late’ is not spelled ‘U R L8’ are not the Facebook target audience.  Facebook’s target demographic (sorry for the redundancy, but MS Office Word 2010 doesn’t list any synonyms for ‘demographic’ in its thesaurus) is roughly the 17-25 year old age bracket, with a reading comprehension level of about sixth grade.  That’s roughly the span from Junior in high school to second year Harvard Law.  After that the theory is that we’re too old and set in our ways to keep up with the more fluid creation Facebook has turned out to be.  Whether this is by design or happenstance doesn’t matter.  
Now, since I have not fallen into that imperial demographic for oh, a couple of weeks or so, Facebook’s designers and creators really aren’t too concerned about the prospect that  my demographic (old farts) might move on to greener pastures. My demographic is dropping like flies in a blizzard while theirs is reproducing like rabbits on Viagra. (can I sling them mixed metaphors, or can’t I?)
I have been a Facebook user almost since its inception.  I joined when it really was mostly college kids.  It looks nothing today like it did back then.  The problem is not the changes but rather the combination of the frequency of the changes, the scope of the changes, and the whole apparent mindset of Facebook’s owners.  Yes, it’s their bat and ball.  Yes it’s their park.  Yes it’s free to users.  But those things are true of other internet ventures as well, 97% of whom (there’s that bloody number again) give the appearance that they are at least pretending to listen to the comments, considerations and concerns of their user base whether it fits their demographic or not.  On the other hand, Facebook is an equal opportunity brick wall.  They don’t listen to their demographic either.
So for a while, at least, I’ll be giving Google+ the lion’s share of my social networking.  It has taken me several years to reach my towering plateau of 377 ‘friends’ so I don’t expect my Google Circles to inflate overnight.  And of course, there is a learning curve to consider, just as there is with Zuckerman’s newest experimental design.  The difference is that the only difference between Google+ when I went to bed last night and Google+ when I woke up this morning is that last night joining was by invitation only.  This morning, anyone can get in the pool and play.
That and I seriously do not expect Google+ to do the social network equivalent of migrating you from Windows 98 to Win7 in six month’s time.  Yes, I know Windows and Microsnot didn’t do that.  I’m making a feeble analogy to demonstrate both the complexity and rapidity of the FB changes by comparing them to the more elongated rollout of Microsnot’s operating system over the course of the last twelve years.  Facebook’s revisions have been as complex, but compressed into a much smaller window, as it were.  Not to mention that unless you were buying an entirely new computer, you had some small measure of input regarding when and how you would make the migration.
Around here, a bank is running a commercial in which this guy comes down for his morning cuppa, and is greeted by a woman and two teenaged girls.  “Who are you?” the man cautiously asks.  “We’re your new family,” is their cheerful reply.  The advert goes on to talk about your bank changing owners overnight and how when they do that, you’re sort of stuck with it, like it or move on.
Sort of like waking up, flipping on your computer, pouring yourself a cuppa, and seeing “Hi!  I’m your new Facebook!  No, you don’t have any say in the matter!  Ta-Ta!”
93% of us won’t care.
7% will shrug their shoulders and walk down the block to the store with the Grand Opening sign in its window.
And yes, I made those numbers up, too.
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