Facebook Origins And Motivations Computer Science Essay

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Until the advent of Facebook, no inventor of an Internet-based technology has ever been heralded on TIME Magazine as "person of the year" (Grossman 2010a) until Mark Zuckerberg came up with an invention that "ate the world" (Grossman 2009). The importance of Facebook as a technological platform has been unparalleled precisely because it has transcended from being a mere digital platform to become a part of the social reality of people around the globe (Naughton 2010). In the "Facebook Age," knowledge creation has become ubiquitous. People transmit and consume knowledge every second as they share information, thoughts, opinions, and multimedia (Richardson 2010). This innovation started out as a college tradition before becoming a social networking site. Facebook's launch occurred in 2004 in a Harvard dorm room and started out as a networking for undergraduate students (Fuglsang 2008, p. 13). Students get introduced to one another using photographs into a physical "facebook" patterned after Hot or Not where students got to vote who looked "hotter" in compared photos (Schwartz 2003). From its origin as a networking tool, Zuckerberg developed it into a web-based service where members can post their profiles containing information such as birth dates, employment, interests, favourite books, favourite music, and others (Schonfeld, 2008). Moreover, the service enabled people to privately communicate with each other through "messages" or by posting a message on someone's "wall" (Richardson 2010). During his interviews, Zuckerberg underscores the motivation behind Facebook: enhancing real connections (Grossman 2010b). His theory revolves around the fact that "people communicate most naturally and effectively" with those they know - friends, family, and associates. All Facebook did was "to provide information to a set of applications through which "people want to share information, photos or videos or events" (Locke 2007). Today, Facebook is a way of life for millions of people, which as of January 2011 total 600 million users (Carlson 2011). Due to its phenomenal rise and usage, Facebook has become a significant product that has several implications for the practice of knowledge management.

How Facebook has revolutionised collaboration for knowledge management

One area where technology has become a crucial tool for knowledge management has been in collaboration. Among the fundamental goals of knowledge management is to "improve organizational performance by enabling individuals to capture, share, and apply their collective knowledge to make optimal decisions…in real time" (Smith and Farquhar 2000, p. 17). Knowledge management is much more than technologies for information sharing and collaboration: it also includes the creation and sustainment of communities of practice, coping with behavioral and cultural aspects of people, and creating trusted and validated content (Payne 2007).The use of technology for collaboration has vastly changed from what it meant 10 years ago. The evolution could be divided into stages:

Disks and file transfers via email. Before, collaboration referred to the process of transferring files one-by-one via email or passing around floppy disks (Wilson, 2010). This proved time-consuming for people and difficult to retrieve information; labelling was either incomplete, out-of-date, or the contextual information was vague. The effect was that people took too much time browsing in order to retrieve data (Adler and Kwon 2002).

Network drives. After file transfers came the more advanced collaboration tool by using "network drives" so that all folders can now be accessed by all through a local network. Yet, this system of collaboration posed problems: it was limited by memory and attention spans and personal connections. People still relied on others to determine where data can be retrieved. A linear relationship existed between the time required to manage data and the size or number of data being managed. Hence, managing data was still time-consuming and people found minimal incentives in dealing with data or information management.

Web-based software solutions. The advent of the Internet made collaboration easier especially when Web-based collaboration software was developed by companies. A case in point is Microsoft SharePoint which offered features that allowed the smooth flow of information: alerts, document libraries, forms, surveys, discussion boards, personal profiles, categorizations, and functions such as pulling information from data sources on the Web (Miles and Miles 2000). Despite expanding access to resources and organizing data at the same time protecting information, what lacked was a critical element of the collaboration process: user participation.

Social networking. Encouraging people to become active participants in the knowledge management process is a challenge. With the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, knowledge management has now considered the use of the social media approach to stimulate collaboration (Nash and Nash 2011). Facebook offers not merely a platform where people exchange information - it also enhances satisfaction and emotional gratification because the engagement becomes personal and hence, "more fun." Effective collaboration requires two primary elements: adoption (number of teams having access to the system) and engagement (number of people regularly using the system). Social media such as Facebook has revolutionised the way knowledge management among organisations has been defined.

Current state of the art of Facebook: a review

From a simple networking technology, Facebook has progressed and evolved in terms of interface and interaction for users, ability for knowledge creation, as well as potential threats to knowledge creation.

Interface and interaction for users.

Many interface changes have been made to address privacy issues and improve page management for Facebook users. Some of these changes were received positively and negatively. On the one hand, the new privacy features limited knowledge sharing and exchange while on the other hand, it also enhanced trust during the knowledge exchange. Some of the following listed here are the major interface changes in Facebook:

May 2006 - Networks are expanded to workplaces as well as colleges and high schools.

September 2006 - News Feed and Mini-Feed are added, aggregating profile changes of friends. New privacy settings are made available. Additionally, registration is expanded so anyone can join.

May 2007 - Facebook launches their "Applications" platform.

July 2007 - Facebook removes the profile field that allows users to list their courses.

March 2008 - New privacy controls are added (Lampe, Ellison and Steinfeld 2008).

October 2010 - Facebook changed user interface to accommodate its Groups feature. The "Edit Notifications button" was changed to "Edit Settings" and users have the option to opt out (Constine 2010)

February 2011- Providing one-click link for various administrative tasks, removal of tabs for page improvement, a new masthead composing five images latest to be added (called "Photostrip") (Ware 2011)

Ubiquity in knowledge creation.

What makes Facebook lead its rivals such as MySpace is its friendliness to third-party application developers. Facebook developed an application programming interface (API) which developers can now use and take advantage of in the context of social networking at Facebook. Developers can now utilize user social graphs and from there design applications which would enhance user interaction in a myriad of ways. Aside from user interaction, businesses stand to gain from API because advertising and financial transaction functionalities can also be integrated. However, the key element to the ubiquitous knowledge creation in Facebook is the "news feed" which has already been patented to Zuckerberg. Developers could now tap into the social graph of users and create applications of all types that would allow people to interact in new and interesting ways. Once a user posts information, status, media, or installs an application, a message kicks off and appears in the news feeds of all the user's friends (Treadaway and Smith, 2009, p. 186). For November 2007, more than 7,000 applications were developed using the Facebook Platform or roughly 100 every day (Rampell 2007). There were over 400,000 registered application developers (Ustinova 2008). Moreover, Facebook simplifies gathering and connecting information between images, videos, and text. Its structure allows individuals (nodes) to be connected to information from non-connected individuals; for instance, a user can view messages through the news feed made by unconnected contacts to the user's "friends." Moreover, groups are able to create knowledge based on interest such as social or political groups or a group of experts exchanging knowledge. Another interesting feature that enhances knowledge creation is "Notes" which allows individuals to create content on topics or concepts. People may respond through the "comment" facility which refines and develops information further. Some of the numerous features which Facebook has that contribute to knowledge creation include: "liking"; comment; ratings; threaded conversations; feeds; automatic updates when specific things of interest happen; the ability to ask questions (survey); the ability to make requests; and the ability to pass word along about things that are happening.

Factors that help or hinder KM when using Facebook

While Facebook's API platform has made knowledge creation and knowledge sharing easier, it has also raised questions of privacy. Some of the popular "apps" that Facebook has have become "spam" or in some cases, relayed identifying information without users' consent. These are then transmitted to advertising companies and Internet tracking businesses (Steele and Fowler 2010). Privacy issues have affected nearly 10 million Facebook users; this issue is forecast by some tech experts to plague Facebook for years to come.

The impact of Facebook of KMS

Knowledge work. Facebook has facilitated the process in which users share their knowledge with a group of other users or an organisation. The sharing of knowledge can be within a closed or open community. In the knowledge sharing process, users possess the knowledge they contribute. This means that the identity of the users is known and associated with the contributions. Users have full control over the content with respect to granting and withdrawing access rights for sharing, grouping, and annotating it.

Collaboration & communication. Mass collaboration using digital technologies is transforming all aspects of the knowledge society even more rapidly than envisioned (Howlett, 2010: 21). These users can give hints, make suggestions how to solve the problem, or give concrete solution directions. To solve the problem, users may break it down in smaller sub-problems. Further, they may agree or disagree on the problem solving strategy and discuss about it. Private communication between the users through the collaborative prob-lem-solving platform is not possible, thus all feedback, hints, answers, and solutions provided are visible to all users of the community. Examples of Web 2.0 applications that provide for collaborative knowledge exchange are discussion forums and question and answering (Q&A) sys-tems. Representative examples are described in Section 4.1. Although private communication between the users through the collaborative dis-cussion and question answering is not possible, some of the systems include support for sending private messages to other users.

Management. Facebook has had several implications for management. First, there is the perceived loss of productivity because of excessive engagement with social networking sites. One published last year by Morse, an IT company, estimated that personal use of social networks during the working day was costing the British economy almost £1.4 billion ($2.3 billion) a year in lost productivity. Another, by Nucleus Research, an American firm, concluded that if companies banned employees from using Facebook while at work, their productivity would improve by 1.5% ('Anonymous no more' 2010). However, Facebook has also revolutionised the recruitment process since Social networks have made the labour market more transparent in another way too. A survey by CareerBuilder.com of about 2,700 executives in America last year found that 45% of them looked at job candidates' social-network pages as part of their research, and more than a third of those had unearthed information there that put them off hiring someone. 

Trust issues. In 2010, however, privacy experts twice pointed out that Facebook was sending information about its users to the same advertisers that track browsing using cookies. It is not known what, if anything, the advertisers did with this information. The potential, however, is clear: the Facebook data could have been used to deanonymise the browsing histories associated with the cookies. Facebook plugged this leak of personal information, but only after the problem was given prominent coverage in the Wall Street Journal. When the leak was highlighted by computer scientists in August 2009, nine months earlier, Facebook took no action. Another anonymity-eroding technique was recently flagged by computer scientists. It relies on "history stealing", in which a security flaw in a user's web browser allows rogue websites to retrieve fragments of his browsing history. This may not directly reveal his identity, but can be very revealing. For example, if a user has joined three groups on a social network, there is a limited overlap between the groups' membership lists, and those lists are public, it may simply be a matter of working out who belongs to all three groups.

The future of Facebook

The future of Facebook with respect to KMS seems bright but if it is unable to resolve privacy issues, it may find itself out of the lead. Facebook may lead to fast and easy knowledge creation but the high participation of end users presents problems such as privacy issues and low productivity. The Facebook Platform allows the integration of different kinds of knowledge particularly the integration of applications and the constant creation of content. Facebook, when properly managed, can provide knowledge management support for professional organisations as well as of non-professional organisations.

Grossman, L. 2009. Why Facebook is for old fogies. TIME. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1879169,00.html

Grossman, L. 2010. Person of the year 2010: Mark Zuckerbeg. TIME. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2036683_2037183_2037185,00.html

Naughton, J. 2010. The future of Facebook. Guardian UK. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/mar/14/facebook-john-naughton-the-networker

Grossman, L. 2007. Nerd world: why Facebook is the future. TIME. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1655722,00.html

Carlson, N. (2011). Goldman to clients: Facebook has 600 million users. MSN News. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40929239/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/

Schonfeld, E. 2008. Facemash resturns as (what else?) A Facebook app called Uliken. TechCrunch http://techcrunch.com/2008/05/13/facemash-returns-as-what-else-a-facebook-app-uliken/

Schwartz, B. (2003). Hot or not? Website briefly judgles looks. The Harvard Crimson. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2003/11/4/hot-or-not-website-briefly-judges/

Carlson, N. (2010). The origins of facebook. Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-origins-of-facebook-and-mark-zuckerberg-2010-3

McGirt, E. 2007. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg: hacker. dropout.CEO. Fast Company. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/115/open_features-hacker-dropout-ceo.html

Fuglsang, L. 2008. Innovation and the creative process: towards innovation with care. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.


The notes facility is close to individual created articles, this space would be suitable for detailed outlines of individual thought on topics or concepts. The comment facility allows for discussion on points related to the topic of the note which could hopefully be used to create what Goldrat calls the "yes BUT" to hopefully speed the process refining and developing the information.

Facebook launched the Facebook Platform on May 24, 2007, providing a framework for software developers to create applications that interact with core Facebook features.[9][1] A markup language called Facebook Markup Language was introduced simultaneously; it is used to customize the "look and feel" of applications that developers create. Using the Platform, Facebook launched several new applications,[9][1] including Gifts, allowing users to send virtual gifts to each other, Marketplace, allowing users to post free classified ads, Events, giving users a method of informing their friends about upcoming events, and Video, letting users share homemade videos with one another.[10][11]

Applications that have been created on the Platform include chess, which both allow users to play games with their friends.[12] In such games, a user's moves are saved on the website, allowing the next move to be made at any time rather than immediately after the previous move.[13]

Within a few months of launching the Facebook Platform, issues arose regarding "application spam", which involves Facebook applications "spamming" users to request it be installed.[17]

Facebook integration was announced for the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DSi on June 1, 2009 at E3.[18] On November 18, 2009, Sony announced an integration with Facebook to deliver the first phase of a variety of new features to further connect and enhance the online social experiences of PlayStation 3.[19] On February 2, 2010, Facebook announced the release of HipHop for PHP as an opensource project.[20]

Social Sites extends the functionality of SharePoint in a number of respects. The first generation of Social Sites added features including:

marking and tagging items;

providing custom streams of their "friends" activity updates (imagine keeping up with important developments with key people down the hall, in other regions or departments as they happen);

making it easier to move content in and out of SharePoint; and

making it easy for people to connect with the people who posted specific items with a single click.

An open API makes it possible to customize activity streams open to groups of users that is also accessible from mobile devices. Social Sites also lends itself to community management and governance.

Facebook now has a central place in our culture. Just like Google, it has become a verb: people now whisper "Facebook me" as they air-kiss. After years of asking, all our friends are now "on it", including millions who aren't really our friends at all - brands, bands, TV shows and businesses. It's normal to see buskers in the Tube displaying badges urging us to join them on Facebook. I even saw a badge like that on the back of a plumber's van. Surely Facebook has finally, totally made it and is here to stay. But is it?

Facebook is primarily a feat of social engineering. (It wouldn't be a bad idea for Google to acquire Facebook, the way it snaffled YouTube, but it's almost certainly too late in the day for that. Yahoo! offered a billion for Facebook last year and was rebuffed.) Facebook's appeal is both obvious and rather subtle. It's a website, but in a sense, it's another version of the Internet itself: a Net within the Net, one that's everything the larger Net is not. Facebook is cleanly designed and has a classy, upmarket feel to it--a whiff of the Ivy League still clings. People tend to use their real names on Facebook. They also declare their sex, age, whereabouts, romantic status and institutional affiliations. Identity is not a performance or a toy on Facebook; it is a fixed and orderly fact. Nobody does anything secretly: a news feed constantly updates your friends on your activities. On Facebook, everybody knows you're a dog.

Maybe that's why Facebook's fastest-growing demographic consists of people 35 or older: they're refugees from the uncouth wider Web. Every community must negotiate the imperatives of individual freedom and collective social order, and Facebook constitutes a critical rebalancing of the Internet's founding vision of unfettered electronic liberty. Of course, it is possible to misbehave on Facebook--it's just self-defeating. Unlike the Internet, Facebook is structured around an opt-in philosophy; people have to consent to have contact with or even see others on the network. If you're annoying folks, you'll essentially cease to exist, as those you annoy drop you off the grid.

Facebook has taken steps this year to expand its functionality by allowing outside developers to create applications that integrate with its pages, which brings with it expanded opportunities for abuse. (No doubt Griffith is hard at work on FacebookScanner.) But it has also hung on doggedly to its core insight: that the most important function of a social network is connecting people and that its second most important function is keeping them apart (Grossman, 2007).

The basic idea behind Social Sites (my take, not necessarily J. B.'s) is that SharePoint users experience less frustration, find better quality material, and receive more emotional gratification when their SharePoint experience is more like Facebook. And because a social media approach to collaboration is both useful and gratifying, more people use the collaboration system - adoption increases - and they use it more often for more purposes - engagement increases. Teams get more done while having more fun. Additional benefits of a social media overlay on top of a standard SharePoint install is that it to draws attention to and promotes increased use of available resources and encourages users to find out about and experiment with collaboration options they weren't using before, which may convert them into more valuable collaborators themselves.

Developing the ability to collaborate effectively is difficult, because collaboration is voluntary. People won't collaborate just because they are told to, so collaboration can't be managed in a traditional hierarchical, command-and-control environment. Organizations therefore need to invest in creating conditions that will encourage collaboration: an environment of trust, self-management, behavioural protocols, shared intent and equitable sharing of returns. This is a familiar message in KM, where it's widely accepted that organizations can only influence knowledge creation and sharing, and the way to do this is to provide an appropriate environment and appropriate tools

Until around ten years ago, when people talked about using software for "collaboration" in an Enterprise setting they usually meant transferring files point-to-point by email or handing off a diskette, aka "floppy-net" (or worse, by passing paper that would require re-typing). SharePoint and other web-like Information Management solutions

The rise of the internet has helped propel Enterprise collaboration forward, thanks in part to a new generation of internet-inspired collaboration software exemplified by Microsoft's SharePoint. Sharepoint offers features such as alerts, discussion boards, document libraries, categorization, shared workspaces, forms and surveys, personal pages and profiles, and the ability to pull in and display information from data sources outside of SharePoint itself, including the internet ("web parts"). Access controls have also evolved, enabling people to have access to the files and directories that pertain to them, while limiting access to others. Meanwhile data storage capacity has exploded, costs have plummeted, and access speed has rocketed. Naturally, for most organizations the volume of documents being managed has ballooned exponentially. But we still need to ask: have knowledge management and collaboration scaled in proportion to the volume of information that is available and could be useful if more people could get their hands on it?

Notwithstanding features like Enterprise search, notifications, and improved metadata, many information management hubs are, in effect, still data silos where information is safe and organized but inconvenient to explore and share. In truth, despite powerful automated solutions now available, effective collaboration is still largely dependent on the quality of user participation.

Adoption and Engagement

For a collaboration system to be effective it must maintain a critical mass of active users or risk becoming ignored and thus irrelevant. There's a chicken and egg relationship here. A collaboration system must achieve and maintain a critical mass of adoption and engagement to be self-sustaining. Few people are going to adopt and engage if nothing of value is happening on the system because not enough other people have adopted and engaged. To attract this level of participation the experience should be easy (low frustration), useful (practical results are usually obtained), and emotionally rewarding (users experience satisfaction or even enjoy using it). Otherwise a collaboration system risks turning into a quiet information cul de sac no matter how impressive its technology.

Enter social media

Lessons learned from the social media phenomenon - examining the virtual footprints of the hundreds of millions of people using Facebook - are radically enhancing Enterprise knowledge management by promoting ease of use, practical results, and emotional gratification within collaboration systems. To get more information about this development I recently met with J. B. Holston, CEO of NewsGator, whose Social Sites solution adds Facebook-like features to SharePoint. Available for only 3-1/2 years, Social Sites' committed customers already include Accenture, Novartis, Biogen, Edelman, and Deloitte, among others.

The basic idea behind Social Sites (my take, not necessarily J. B.'s) is that SharePoint users experience less frustration, find better quality material, and receive more emotional gratification when their SharePoint experience is more like Facebook. And because a social media approach to collaboration is both useful and gratifying, more people use the collaboration system - adoption increases - and they use it more often for more purposes - engagement increases. Teams get more done while having more fun. Additional benefits of a social media overlay on top of a standard SharePoint install is that it to draws attention to and promotes increased use of available resources and encourages users to find out about and experiment with collaboration options they weren't using before, which may convert them into more valuable collaborators themselves.

As icing on the cake, Newsgator also offers iPhone and iPad applications for Social Sites to enable everywhere, all of the time mobile interaction with SharePoint (including Social Sites social media features), completing the Facebook-like user experience.

For companies already using SharePoint, Social Sites allows them to upgrade their team's collaborative performance without fundamentally reengineering their current knowledge management systems. For example the way information is stored and structured and integrations like workflows can be preserved. They can also avoid the costs of migration, retraining employees on new systems, or hiring specialists to manage the new systems. On the flip side, to the extent that Social Sites upgrades SharePoint to make it competitive with, or superior to, other collaboration options, the combination improves SharePoint's attractiveness to companies considering swicthing over from competing knowledge management solutions. Finally, customers who seek to make this level of interaction widely available within their organizations may buy even more SharePoint licenses and invest in more customization.