I just watched Facebook’s product announcement. They’re rolling out a few new features starting today. First, a group chat feature, which will allow for real-time text chat among members of ad-hoc groups (think of adding a few friends to a chat session to discuss going to a movie). Second, they are redesigning regular chat to make it easier to use, and also to allow you quickly to send a message to a friend who doesn’t happen to be online at the time you want to chat. Third, they have incorporated Skype into Facebook in a way that makes it super-user-friendly, so that you can now have a video chat, one-on-one, with your Facebook friends. Apparently you will hear a ring when you are getting a video “call”, then be given the option to accept or not. You can accept even if you haven’t yet installed the software, as they say it will download in about 30 seconds. (You can see my twitter feed for more details, as I tweeted the event, real-time.)
I like the company’s focus on ease of use, and on facilitating sharing with others. I also like the fact that Zuckerberg said he wanted to allow independent entrepreneurs to develop most of the apps, as he recognized that they would be able to develop better apps independently than if FB did it all in-house. Zuckerberg is also interested in the sociology of the various forms of interaction that he is facilitating, which is good. I can imagine that there will be many dissertations on these topics for decades to come. Where I disagree with him is in his projection that sharing, on a per-person basis, will continue to grow exponentially, as it has for the last several years. After all, the amount of human attention span and energy is finite. I’m wondering if we’re close to being maxed out on our ability to share, and still lead productive lives outside of Facebook!
Now, to go put on some makeup I guess…
[Update: I thought everyone would have to wait for a lengthy rollout process, but apparently you can try out the video calling feature right now by going to this page in Facebook. Have fun!]