Facebook and Attention Economies - Social Gravity and Interface Use
This is part of my research on the social gravity of Facebook and its affect on user actions. Keep in mind that this write-up is meant to be an analogy from one system to another as a way to explore the concept of data gravity. Please do not take it too terribly seriously.
Architecture of Participation
In 1994 O'Reilly wrote about his use of the phrase "the architecture of participation" to describe the nature of systems that are designed for user contribution.
Facebook is such a system, and its architecture has a certain gravity to it. The study of anthropology, once one gets deeply into it, becomes a study of space and time. Physics is also a study of space and time. Applying one field to the other is not a difficult or ridiculous idea, as the Internet is a space that is a set of inlinks and websites that have their own gravity - the gravity of attention.
Orbits of Attention
I'd like to illustrate three types of Facebook users using a diagram of a planet's gravitational field.
C: Circular Orbit
Facebook trap - continuous orbit of attention. Data and presence and entirety of social life tied to Facebook which can never escape, but stays constant over time.
U: Unbound Orbit
Facebook user can log in, be temporarily distracted by data but achieve objective before logging out.
E. Elliptical Orbit
Facebook user experiences periods of immense Facebook activity and then retreats for a while, using the interface less for a while.
Facebook has quite a big of gravity. What will happen? Will it fall under its own gravitational pull to become a sun? Or is it already a sun, giving life to a host of planets orbiting around it? Will it become a black hole that data can never come out of or interact with any other data? Has it already become that? Will it go supernova? Will a binary star tap all of its users? I've been trying to determine just what kind of gravitational body Facebook is. If it can be determined, its future can also be determined. One has to love the ability to explain one system in terms of another.