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July 12, 2007

For Facebook, I Can Already See the Epilogue

Five years from now, Facebook will not be a household brand. Like GeoCities and TheGlobe.com before it, today's hot Web communities are tomorrow's graveyards, as a fickle Web audience will continue to move from one destination to the next, leaving behind ignored friend requests and a a river of bad HTML in their wake.

Even if you throw out the 1990s community sites mentioned above, it's easy to see how once exciting social networking destination sites give way to the next. From Friendster, to MySpace, to Facebook, hordes of teens, wannabe teens or those preying on teens have made the move, until, as Yogi Berra once said, "Nobody goes there any more because it's too crowded."

In 2006, it seemed nothing could beat MySpace. Now, as Facebook has opened up their doors to developers with custom APIs and let in the unwashed masses, instead of just for college or high school students, it seems that it's all anyone can talk about these days. But while that's fun and interesting, the truth is that it's still a closed, gated network, which runs contrary to the full purpose of the open Internet - one of transparency, exchange of ideas, communication and ease of access.

I don't have a Facebook login, don't have access, and don't want it. Why, when there is so much content and real-time collaboration and conversation going on outside of the walls of Facebook, would I take the extra effort to share in conversations and faux digital friendships to a more limited audience? It just doesn't make sense.

Today's Facebook is tomorrow's Friendster, or in five years, GeoCities. Teens are the most fickle of them all, and I'm not exactly sure they're going to be ecstatic that their moms and dads can now jump in and participate. That's just not cool. And once the 'rents start hanging out in your place, it's time to move on. I promise that's what will happen next. Slowly, but inevitably.

So, while John Battelle writes "Why Facebook, Why Now?" and Robert Scoble picks apart Facebook application issues, recognize that it's a lot of talk for today about something that has a very limited future.