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If I Ran Facebook: Ideas for Zuck

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

Hi. You don’t know me, but you can find me at facebook.com/christine.cavalier. Click on that link and it will take you to my The Facebook.com page. You will need Internet access and a web browser or a dedicated mobile application to access my page.

So, I’ve been wandering around your site for the past few years, and I’ve been hanging out on the Internet and with adult humans for the past 20 years, and I have a few ideas for you.

I’m not going to bug you about privacy and all that, because, you know, we don’t want to speak ill of the dead. Other people have beat you over the head about it already. I think you should definitely think about an opt out button for all the data collection in order to gain people’s trust, but whatever. That’s up to you.

But if I were you, I’d start thinking about human behavior a bit more. There’s this stage of mental growth in Developmental Psychology Theory called “Object Permanence.” Basically it’s the moment when babies realize that things and people don’t just disappear into the ether if they can’t see them. So mommy can go around the corner and baby doesn’t cry his eyes out as if aliens had abducted her. Baby knows his mommy will be back.

Adults have a similar way of working with their environs. We get used to things existing around us. When one of those things breaks, we replace it with a similar device. No-one would expect a family to live without a TV when their old TV dies. We expect that family to replace the TV.

As a Purveyor of Fine Internet Goods, you can’t sell the same kind of “object permanence.” A computer may be a staple in a household, but I haven’t seen any evidence nor human behavior that suggests that any one website has that level of assimilation. So, The Facebook needs to become an object.

If I were you, Mr. Zuck, I’d start developing a stand-alone, dedicated The Facebook Pad. This “Facebooker” (or whatever cutesy name your sister comes up with for it) will be a wall-mounted iPad-like dedicated hardware and software object. It will use wifi and will operate similarly to the FB-dedicated mobile apps. The price point must be way, WAY, WAAAAY less than an iPad. If you can swing it, it should have a camera for chat.

More ideas: You will have to implement some sort of Google-Calendar-like app into Fb so families can have one electronic wall-mounted calendar space. You should buy Foursquare and integrate it with this calendar, so much like Mrs. Weasley’s interesting clock, moms will be able to tell where their kids are located and compare that location to where they SHOULD be located according to the calendar.

Since this “Facebooker” hardware/software app will probably be hung in the kitchen, you should buy a live-chat video system like Skype. I’d love it if I could hire a chef to give me a cooking class via the Facebooker. They could take me through the meal step by step on video chat. This whole remote education possibility is something you should think about also. If you have a Facebooker, you can distribute all sorts of e-learning products. Think about buying up Strayer or some other e-learning “university.”

You should buy Venmo and all it’s people so you can have a decent peer-to-peer payment system. Then Zynga can side-step international gambling laws and write games where friends bet each other, about whatever friends bet each other on. I’d keep the fees down, so I can bet my friend $5 that he can’t stay off Twitter for 10 minutes numerous times and not feel cheated by fees.

Become best friends with Bill Gates if you are not already. I don’t know him personally but if I did, I’d introduce you. If you want The Facebook to become a staple in society like Microsoft, you will need to know how to acquire bunches and bunches of competition while circumventing anti-trust laws. Bill didn’t avoid the law entirely but he won in the end. Bill also knew how to get into major markets like business. But Bill had permanent, real objects like computers (from partnered companies) with his software on it to sell and was not only a Purveyor of Fine Internet Goods, like you are. Businesses didn’t ban the use of Bill’s products, like they do yours. Which leads me to my next idea:

Make a dedicated Facebook For Business. Install Facebookers in conference rooms, in the walls of secretaries’ cubicles, etc. Businesses right now ban social networking sites because of fear of lost productivity. Instead of trying to fight this image, instead of forcing business integration into the established Fb platform, open up another container entirely and gear it toward business use. I’d be shocked if you aren’t developing this already. Bill Gates got to the business market and held on tight. Microsoft is not going anywhere. Why? Because people are used to Excel. They expect it to be there and working on their computers that they are used to when they get to their desks. But more importantly, Bill got to the business market first, and he bundled up the software with the hardware it came on. You need to do this.

Human brains are wired a certain way. We depend on physical things. Facebook is not physical enough at this point to achieve the level of societal integration like Microsoft or Apple has achieved. And it won’t, ever, unless there are dedicated Facebook machines in homes and workplaces. It’s just how human brains work. The iPad is too “complicated” (has way too many uses to just dedicate it to Fb) and the price point is too high. Also, the iPad is designed to move around. The Facebooker should be designed to mount on the wall and able to be dismounted easily if necessary.

Once people get used to the physical presence of Facebook in their daily lives, in a real, not virtual way, then it will have truly become a permanent part of our every day lives.

Good luck, Mr. Zuck! I look forward to hearing from you. Which I probably won’t, ever, but you know, if you want me to tell you about how humans adopt tech and deal with change, shoot me an email. In Facebook.

-Christine Cavalier

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • mike s 8 April 2011, 9:57 am

    Christine, you have this almost completely right. But, you missed a key point — the user interface. The Facebook won’t be an iPad-like device. Instead, the display will be projected as a holographic 3D image using heads-up display glasses. At least until the wireless interface directly into the human brain is perfected, anyway… 🙂

    • PurpleCar 8 April 2011, 11:38 am

      Bah! You’re totally right. 3d holo all the way. Baby steps.

  • dragonsearch 11 April 2011, 9:41 pm

    If I was looking to start another business venture (which I’m not) I would hang out here, at your blog, and swipe all sorts of great ideas. And get rich.

    • PurpleCar 12 April 2011, 5:11 am

      LOL! Thanks!

      I heard a great piece of wisdom lately: Ideas are free. Implementation is not.

      Despite my husband’s concerns about giving away ideas I should probably be
      selling, I’ve decided I’ll just share more. When I meet people, I usually have
      at least one or two original ideas for their ventures. I also beta-test a lot of
      web apps and software for the same reason – I tend to see opportunities that
      others’ don’t. My theory is this: if I share more, I will strengthen my creative
      muscles. This can only help me in my writing and consulting. These aren’t the
      kinds of ideas or intellectual property that one copyrights, so why not just put
      them out there? It’s fun. The wackier the better!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      -Christine Cavalier

  • Tony Davies 11 April 2011, 10:23 pm

    Hi Christine, I found your site via the 100 books meme (a new word I never knew I had to know) and am now hooked.
    I think you should quickly copyright your FaceBooker idea and wait for the money to start pouring in


    • PurpleCar 12 April 2011, 5:30 am

      Thanks for coming, Tony!

      Copyrighting ideas is difficult. I’d need a prototype or proof-of-concept of a Facebooker. I fear that such an endeavor would pull me away from my writing. I learned a little axiom when I was working as a sys admin for a major brands company: Do only what you do best. My destiny (as it seems to me now) is writing (and some consulting). I should stick to that.

      Now that I’ve broken the seal, I’ll be doing more “If I Were _______” posts like this. My mind always overflows with crap like this, I may as well get it out, right?

      By the way, “meme?” Holy cow that word is a thorn in my side. LOL

      -Christine Cavalier

  • John Davies 22 April 2011, 10:08 am

    This is a well thought out post with some very good ideas. Definitely think that a “Facebook Pad” would be huge!!