Wall Of Fame

27 02 2011

One of the great things about innovation is that it often begets secondary and tertiary product and service markets in its wake. Take, for example, the iPhone. Apple intentionally left the aftermarket to companies like Griffin and Belkin, who have provided us with dozens of products to help make our smartphone experience even better. Cases. Chargers. Car converters. You name it. In fact, you could make a good argument that the real money is in all of the accessories.

So it should come as no surprise that someone is now capitalizing handsomely on our Facebook addiction. No, I do not mean online gaming company Zynga (think: Farmville and all the other “-illes”). No, it’s SocialPrintshop, the start-up whose first product is a poster of your Facebook Wall.

Yes, now you can look at all of your FB friends’ mugs on one handy wall covering. Same goes for Twitter (both your followers and who you are following), as well as Tumblr. They’ll even commit your FB photo albums to poster.

Now if this has you thinking this is the moast egotistical thing a person could do, you are probably right. Think about it. The FB newbie with six friends (whose pics would fit on a handbill) might feel inadequate entering the home of a person with hundreds, yea thousands, of friends. And to make this point perfectly clear, SocialPrintshop is papering the walls over at Mashable, featuring the smiling faces of over 500,000 adoring fans.

Never mind that the poster will be out of date by the time you receive it. You friend new people; others unfriend you. All manner of social unease could occur when guests come over. “Yeah, that was my friend list circa November 2010. But I would need a much larger poster now. I may have to move this Monet.”

Personally, I wish that Facebook would hide that number showing how many friends we all have. I have no problem with me (or you) perusing your (my) friends, but the quantity is irrelevant. It’s almost as if that number is our social media net worth. I don’t want my retirement account value plastered on my faculty webpage either, or how many articles I have published.

But from a purely business standpoint, this is freakin’ genius. Some folks collect friends like I collect Pez: I grab them whenever I see one I don’t have. Critics have scoffed that the FB era is the culture of narcissism writ large, and they may be right. I may also be guilty of playing hard on the social graph, but I want my friends to know that I value the connection far more than the count.

I seriously doubt I will be buying one of these suitable-for-framing prints, but I also seriously applaud the effort. I know there will no doubt be lots of takers, folks who want (need?) to be reminded of their popularity. This could be a huge money-maker.

But I am far more interested in reading the story of your life than seeing your countenance on my wall (along with everyone else). No, it is when you open your mind and let your fingers do the talking that receive the most gratification of our friendship. Better yet is when people from disparate chapters and pages of my life all meet on the same thread, interacting on a multidimensional plane impossible in any other realm (save a blissful heavenly afterlife). A photo collage may be nice, but a meeting of the minds trumps a poster every time.

And you can print that.

Dr “Picture Imperfect” Gerlich

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