What made Facebook successful?

I remember, in 2006, when I first started to notice Facebook. At that point, it was a basic service, allowing users to connect to one another and share updates and information. It had competitors – myspace and Orkut, amongst many others. Why did Facebook grow to be so dominant?

Facebook’s simple visual identity and early links to the Ivy League gave it an aspirational brand component, which meant that young adults adopted it in droves, which later pulled their parents into the network and then their grandparents.

As well, FB has been quick to adapt to emerging trends in social networking such as the incorporation of hashtags, trending topics and embedded video. As its members’ networks grew, FB’s algorithms that keep you focused on the friends you are most likely to interact with kept users’ feeds relevant.

The perceived rapid responses to demands from users to customize their privacy settings kept the network in its users’ good books. While the actual efficacy of privacy protection is questionable, FB was able to create the perception that it acted quickly.

As well, FB has kept its advertising scheme relevant, with relatively unobtrusive advertising that permitted easy and accurate geotargeting as well as targeting according to SES and other demographic features.

Once FB became a household name and an essential part of many people’s family, personal and work/school lives, it achieved a critical mass which has made it difficult to not be part of for most.

So, a combination of first-to-market, a clean look, prestige associations and quick adaptation has kept FB at the top of the heap.

Any thoughts?


Computers I have used and video games I have played

I have been a computer enthusiast since I was a young boy. My first computer was a Texas Instruments Ti99/4A on which I first learned the joys of video games and computer programming.

After that we had a Macintosh SE, with a whopping 10MB hard drive. It felt like a supercomputer! My first laptop was a Macintosh Powerbook 145, with a trackball. After that I switched to a Dell Latitude wintel laptop and then came back to Macintosh with a Macbook 13″ (black), a Mac Book Air and a desktop iMac with windows double boot. My current computers are a MacBook Pro 15″, a retina iMac and an older iPad (first retina edition from 2012). I have never had an iPhone, staying loyal to BlackBerries.

The video games side of computing never really stuck, except for strategy/puzzle games like Myst, Riven, King’s Quest, Fool’s Errand, Starcraft or my favourite… the Civilization franchise (I have actually purchased Civilization: Beyond Earth from the Apple App Store but have not yet had a chance to play).

What computers have always been for me is a window to the world of information and communication technology. The internet is an infrastructure that was build on the technology that little kids like me played and learned with 30 years ago. Having an understanding of computers opens new vistas of understanding and experience for you, particularly as a professional communicator.

Knowledge of computers and the cyber culture they have enabled is key to facilitating relationships for clients. As a communicator, you should try and become as tech savvy as you can!


My new favourite handwriting tool: Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint

I have terrible handwriting. Often, it is so bad that I have to spend significant amounts of time deciphering what I have scribbled during meetings or when I have written down personal observations.

Recently, I discovered the joys and efficiencies of writing and drawing on my iPad with a stylus. I started with one of those bulbous tip styli that one gets for free as swag at conferences, but quick became frustrated with the lack of glide and started hunting for a better alternative.

After much research, I ordered an Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint technology. Wow. What a great stylus… it is very accurate, allowing me to write naturally and quickly using the GoodNotes app, for which the Jot Touch is optimized to pair. The stylus is pressure sensitive and optimized to work with Adobe Creative Cloud, which is awesome for me too.

I have to say, the joys of writing with a stylus on your iPad is that you get all of the feeling of putting pen to paper and achieving a satisfying result: your scribbles appear faithfully on the page. The neat thing though is that this is a Moleskine page on steroids: you can grab bits of things you’ve written and move them around, draw shapes and highlight text. You can even annotate PDFs in GoodNotes paired with a Jot Touch with Pixelpoint. What a pleasure.

I have always found the process of typing up my notes a little artificial. Good handwriting recognition on GoodNotes means that my scrawl is (mostly) faithfully converted into print form. It’s the best of both worlds, really: you can write your notes by hand and then save them as typed docs that are easily shared and read by others.


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Specs of the Adonit Jot Touch. Click on the pic to go to the product page.