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Facebook has unveiled its plans for the newer service “Facebook Lite” in an attempt to streamline the Facebook experience.  There will only be links to see walls, your friends’ walls, profile info, and photos and videos.  This sounds like a fine idea… But then, it also sounds like what Facebook used to be before the endless stream of changes that have taken place since 2008.

Remember the days of yore (because 2004 is so old-school now), when a bare-boned Facebook captured your heart, mind and credit hours with the simplest user interface out of all the social networking sites? There was no live feed of friends’ updates, there wasn’t even a home page initially.  Even at its simplest, Facebook was able to build a loyal following that grew beyond 200 million strong this past spring.

The situation feels like MTV2 revisited.  MTV brought The Box (a viewer request channel that aired music videos commercial-free) in 1996.  They turned that into MTV2 to have a place to show more music videos and a wider range of music genres. Because it had focused so much on developing reality TV shows and teen dramas, it was as if MTV literally ran out of space to fit music into its own channel. 

Facebook seems to be running out of space to fit… “facebooking.”  Now Facebook is overwrought with outside applications, Zuckerberg bought FriendFeed for who knows what reason.  And Facebook seems a little obsessed with Twitter, especially since failing to acquire Twitter in March.

There’s no longer any room for the charm that made Facebook what it once was.  So they have to start over on a new site.  But will one site be enough? (There are 5 channels of MTV in the US alone). For more info on Facebook Lite, check out the ever-useful Mashable and TechCrunch.

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Wall Street Journal had an interesting article in yesterday’s business section on the growing numbers of Americans who make money by blogging.  This includes people who blog on their spare time and professional bloggers for corporations (assuming it is now safe to call blogging a standardized profession?).

 

Mark Penn (the article’s author) has a rosy outlook on blogging, suggesting that it could be a product of the Information Age with the most profound effect on American culture.  As exciting as that is, I’m not sure I want American society being shaped by some of the top-rated blogs: Perez Hilton (#26), I Can Haz Cheezburger (#21), or TMZ (#13).

 

Well actually, that’s manipulation of statistics. The top ten blogs (as rated by Technorati) cater far less to prurient interests.  But, unlike much of the information cranked by the Fourth Estate, they are more opinion-driven than fact-driven.  So it seems to me that blogs are affecting our opinions more than anything. Because now I can type my opinions out and blast them to most regions of the earth, without earning journalism credentials, or even changing out of my pajamas.  And you know what they say about opinions… Everyone has them. 

 

So… as much as I love the blogosphere, I hope it doesn’t impact American culture, so much as it impacts the state of American opinion. You know, making it researched, fully-fleshed and well-rounded.  (This is by no means a critique of Americans or our opinions, I just think we can always stand to be better informed, you know?)

 

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the more interesting parts of the article:

·         One out of three young people reports blogging, but bloggers who do it for a living successfully are 2% of bloggers overall

·         It takes about 100,000 unique visitors a month to generate an income of $75,000 a year

·         In Washington alone, there are now 79% fewer DC-based employees of major newspapers than there were just few years ago (At the same time, Washington is easily the most blogged-about city in America, if not the world)

·         For sites at the top, the returns can be substantial. At some point the value of the Huffington Post will no doubt pass the value of the Washington Post 

 

 

Click here to read the article: America’s Newest Profession: Bloggers for Hire

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