Profile This

6 12 2010

Under normal circumstances, evolution is not something that you can see. It is happening, but like the frog in the kettle of soon-to-be-boiling water, the changes are so slow that you really can’t tell that things are changing.

When it comes to our online lives, we need not wait a few million years for change to be noticeable. Just pause a few seconds and you can see the dorsal fins and and evidence of vestigial tails begin to disappear. Our very existence is changing before our eyes.

Like with the new Facebook Profile pages.

Facebook in and of itself is a case study in evolution, for it changes long before its own paint ever dries. The new Profile page is a vast improvement over the former, and in fact raises an urgent question: Who among us even needs a personal dotcom address anymore? Unless you need a high level of customization, our FB pages pretty much allow us to tell our own stories as we see fit.

The new focus is on visuals, which help tell the story of our lives. It was never intended that FB would become a Flickr site of its own, but that’s what it has become in large part. But in addition to the visuals, FB now makes all the factoids we call ours easily viewable…not just by ourselves, but also anyone who is checking us out.

Sure, critics will once again jump up and down, decrying the latest FB change like mice complaining about the location of their cheese. Naysayers will charge that creepers and stalkers have never had it so easy.

And while they may have a small point, there is little denying that our Profile pages have become our de facto home pages. If you grabbed your FB vanity domain (where were you 19 months ago when this was announced?), you already know the benefits of being able to point people to facebook.com/yourname. Your friends are more likely to find you here than at yourname.com anyway.

And here’s the best part: It’s free. Like always. Like it will be.

Of course, FB senses that further customization of our Profile pages will allow it to send even more directed advertising our way. But those are the terms of engagement. Those ads down the right column (there are now 4 of them) pay the rent and keep FB free for all 550 million of us.

Think this is small change? Think again. This year FB is expected to have $1.3 billion in ad revenues.

I also applaud FB for being ever so agile and quick to respond to subtle changes in the social media landscape. While GetGlue may allow us to “get social” about our books, movies and thoughts, the new Profile page edges ever closer to doing the same thing. And Facebook Places (announced eons ago this Fall), is already causing more and more people to ditch Gowalla and Foursquare.

Because everything we want to do is integrated into our FB experience.

Darwin’s job would have been so much easier had those finches changed this fast.

Dr “(r)Evolutionary” Gerlich


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