Is Facebook for Real?

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A giant telephone book that fails to reveal the main event, an internet giant that exists for the good of mankind or a company on borrowed time? As Facebook’s IPO draws nearer travel industry mentor Don Birch puts on his conspirator’s hat in this exclusive article for EyeforTravel

In general I struggle with the overwhelming logic delivered by conspiracy theorists. These are the guys who take 2 + 2 + 2 and say it makes 17 but somehow remain plausible in the process.  We have all met them!

So who votes for Facebook ruling the world?

As Facebook’s IPO draws closer, I am beginning to wonder how many people do.  My instinct says that the model is ultimately unsustainable, definitely too big, too in your face and finally probably too greedy.  Of course, Mark Zuckerberg would have us believe differently; he pontificated in his IPO filing that Facebook stands for the good of mankind.

“There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future.”  Mark Zuckerberg 

Frankly the reality is quite different.

Mr Zuckerberg, if this is how you feel, then make FaceBook into a foundation and use the proceeds to change the world.  We have learnt over the last four years that capital markets are broken.

We know that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely ~ ask the UK’s Sunnewspaper.  But then maybe I am beginning to sound like a conspiracy theorist myself!

If you sell your soul to Mr Market, the Faust of the markets will ultimately eat you!  Respecting the relationships of 800 million family and friends be damned, money is the thing.  If there is one rule I have learnt in life it is this: if it can happen, it will!

In the United States, Apple pays a 9.8% tax rate because the government’s tax strategies are designed for another age.  Governments do not understand how to tax ‘new things’.  If we are relying upon those same governments to protect us from ‘new things’, zombied by the markets, then we had better think again.

So why am I shorting (just kidding) Facebook?

Firstly to me it is counter intuitive that so many people will, in the long run, trust their personal details, their precious life experiences and emotions to a big C corporation.

Secondly, while people drift in packs, deep down they need to be just that little bit different.  The power of Facebook is the comprehensiveness of the network, but given that most of us are content to socialise with less than 30 people and occasionally communicate with less than a hundred, it is not that difficult to shift your sociograph to somewhere not quite so intrusive, somewhere more like you and somewhere just a little bit cooler. Right now the younger you are the less worried you seem likely to be about Facebook: my point is you should be.

I have always thought of FaceBook as evolving into a giant telephone book, a way of finding A or B but not the main event for the long term.

My instinct is that our online social behaviour will become more personal, more focused and FaceBook will be the place for the loose ends that hang around the edge of our existence and of course, provide directory assistance.

All it needs is for a series of somebodies to come up with neat, very accurate and very contextual social applications and for FaceBook to do just one stupid thing and we will have a sudden shift that will once again transform our industry.  Ask Nokia ~ they had the lead in smart phones, but did not understand that technology currents run deep and one needs to keep investing, keep keeping the faith, take some risks and have a little luck!

Maybe I will morph into a conspiratorist after all!  But there again, I have probably got it all wrong ~ I hope so.

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