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Why the workplace is going to look a lot like Facebook

A strange beast, Facebook, isn’t it??!

A never-ending news feed by our friends and friends’ friends… Facebook extends the social gathering, where you go to find out all the on-dits of the day… it obsolesces email… and retrieves the newspaper with its ‘discontinuous’ juxtaposition of news items and ads (q.v. ‘Front Page’ in The Mechanical Bride).

Invented by and for University students (as you can read about on Wikipedia), Facebook remains incredibly individualist, as does contemporary University culture. Initially a kind of shopfront for organizing your social life, it’s now to a great extent become social life, replacing or at least supplementing ‘real’, ‘face-to-face’ social interaction … Its frustrations (irritations)? Its triviality, the fact that most of its ‘news’ is personal advertising from people you barely know, the sheer volume of irrelevant (to me) information… As Facebook struggles to find its purpose, with constant experiments in form (e.g. the new ‘Timeline’ function), I think it’s safe to say it is probably on the brink of obsolescence.

Meanwhile, ‘going to work’ remains an intensely social experience … at the end of the day we flop on the couch at home, regroup with our family, and catch up with friends online (via Facebook). As our working lives shift from fixed office spaces to fluid ‘connected’ workspaces (home, aeroplane, cafe, or wherever one happens to be, at hours convenient to oneself), there is going to be a flip (reversal): from workplace as ‘real’ social network to workplace as ‘virtual’ social network, and with this a rediscovery of ‘going out’, ‘getting out of the house’, interacting with people ‘face to face’ (or possibly, some real/virtual hybrid – there I think Skype is going to give Facebook a run for its money). The obsolescent Facebook reveals its true potential as workplace interface, where we go to peruse the status of current projects … like the stock broker scanning the business pages of the newspaper, we check in daily at least … via Facebook we promote our newest ventures, our project/product launches, our events…

(Visit Facebook’s business interface at Facebook for Business.)

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