I’ve been on Twitter, in one form or another, for over 2 years. I was on Jaiku for a long time in the middle there, and have been extremely familiar with the microblogging idea for a while. What’s fascinating to me is that while the digerati sees Facebook coming into the various online communities (photosharing, microblogging, social network, etc), there are a whole slough of people out there who are ‘discovering’ the internet through Facebook.
My mom, for instance, discovered Facebook late last year. She has since called me a few times, when someone poked her for the first time, or when someone tagged me in a photo of hers. My mom now posts status updates – witty ones sometimes, even – and regularly adds to her Facebook presence. On several occasions in the past few weeks, I’ve had people (not of the digerati) ask me what Twitter is all about, and I found myself explaining that Twitter is basically an entire service made up of status updates, like on Facebook. Interesting, using Facebook to describe Twitter.
Personally, I find this completely fascinating. Unfortunately, introducing the great unwashed to Facebook (and thus, the internet) has brought more than a few negative effects, as well. You’ll recall the ’25 Random Things About Me’ meme that went around Facebook recently, reminiscint of the early days of email, when passing unending lists was the norm. Worse yet, I’ve seen a few people even passing along the nonsensical chain-mail notes, threatening that if I don’t repost it to my own profile, I’d have bad luck for 6 weeks, or some other ridiculous situation.
What’s most encouraging about this, though, isn’t that the masses are learning about how to share photos online, or how to tell other people what they’re doing right now. The most encouraging thing about this is that Facebook has a quite robust mobile website – fit for use on nearly any mobile phone on the market. As consumers explore Facebook, no doubt they’ll figure out that they can easily get Facebook on their phone, which will encourage more mobile web usage. More importantly, in my opinion, is that users will get a taste of an incredibly useful, well-formatted mobile-friendly site, rather than this desktop-web-on-a-phone nonsense that has been spreading across the mobile industry like wildfire. More on that later.