Robert Scoble is a well-known internet writer and videomaker whose chief skill appears to be the almost childlike, obsessive early-adoption of new services. He was bitching for months about not being on Twitter’s suggested-users list because he followed tens of thousands of people, and currently has more than a million people in Google Circles or something. In a recent post about “scalable living,” he linked to a statement he made on Facebook, of which this is the relevant chunk:
Compare my profiles at https://www.facebook.com/robertscoble to https://profiles.google.com/scobleizer and you’ll see the benefits of frictionless sharing on Facebook. On Facebook you can see a LOT more about me. My Quora questions. My foursquare checkins. My Spotify music. My Pinterest repins. And a lot more.
Google, on the other hand, hates automatic sharing of who you are. I believe this puts Google at a huge strategic disadvantage.
Interesting word, there. “Benefits.” He’s told Facebook probably tens of thousands of things about his life and economic activity. Robert Scoble is, in fact, one of Facebook’s most delightful products. He’s turned over his short-term memory and the digital wormcast of his waking hours over to a company that sells advertising space on the basis that their products – also know as “their users” and their tracked activities – can be induced to spend money through targeting.
Put another way: there is, in fact, a little bit of Robert Scoble’s brain that is now the Facebook Cortex.
And, through his usual hyperactivity, he’s become an even better product: there are 350,000 people following Scoble on Facebook, clicking Like on his Foursquare checkins and Spotify reports – and by those actions Facebook can compile consumer profiles on each of them, too. That little chunk of brain that Scoble has turned over to Facebook is helping to make all his readers better products, too.
Scoble’s looking ahead to contextual computing, and the idea that putting all this data into Facebook will eventually make his life easier because other services will be able to extrapolate it into daily-life informational aid. Because, of course, Facebook is all about you being able to take your data out of it.
Oh, hey, here’s Scoble in 2008, being kicked off Facebook for scraping his contacts data out of his account.
Services, of course, may be able to pay Facebook for the use of Robert Scoble’s Facebook Cortex, and of the products who’ve been pulled into his pseudo-social wake. Scoble may even wish to pay services to use widgets powered by his own data that the service has paid Facebook to access.
Perhaps there will be tangible benefits (for values of “tangible”) for allowing Facebook to colonise a tiny corner of our brains, in the future. If we continue to report, we get things. Amusingly, Bruce Sterling suggested in Eindhoven suggested that something like that could be a condition (or even the condition) of a citizenship that allows you access to basic social services. Perhaps, once again, Robert Scoble is the canary in the coalmine of social media.
Him and his little blue Facebook Cortex, automatically reporting away in the social dark.
(Disclosure: yes, I have a small Page on Facebook. It’s an aggregator. You know what sort of thing gets posted here. If someone releases jenkem as a retail product, I’m sure Facebook will be the first to inform my Facebook readers.)