Facebook taking over the Internet

February 8, 2011

If just a few years back someone had dare to predict that a big chunk of Internet users would shift to a Social Media outlet as a platform of choice for surfing the Internet, the vast majority of industry “experts” would have immediately disregard the idea as non-sense. However that’s exactly the pattern we’re witnessing right now. For many people today, Facebook IS the Internet, and not only for social interaction, but even for other mundane tasks such as searching, playing games, shopping, etc.

The minds behind Facebook (not who you think) are aware of this trend and are doing their best to further encourage its users to stay home by providing the kind of content of services that may drive them away to other sites, ranging from their newly inaugurated e-mail service, to the embedded Wikipedia pages related to the most popular topics, something made possible by the fact that all of Wikipedia’s content is licensed under CC-BY-SA, that allows to share it (copy, distribute and transmit) and to remix it (adapt), under the conditions of Attribution and Share Alike, both easily implemented.

All this is leading to an ever growing proportion of Facebook users (specially young ones) rarely bothering to venture to the outside Internet world, initiating and ending their online sessions entirely within Facebook. They don’t care if a company’s or a celebrity’s presence on the Internet is displayed as a Facebook page or a website, but they increasingly prefer the former, because it is a clean, uncomplicated interface that allows them to keep track of anything that grabs their interest with just a simple “Like” click, as opposed to bookmarks or RSS feeds. And as more businesses and individuals capitalize on the power attached to Social Media, by creating and promoting themselves on Facebook, more and more Internet users find less incentives to ever surf away.


All this is extremely worrying from the point of view of web professionals, because it curbs most of the web designer’s functions and questions the need for a developer. It’s also bad news for Internet related companies that depend mostly on revenues derived from web services such as web hosting, since most of them are provided free by Facebook. On face of this shift, the old saying of “Renovate or Die” makes all the sense now.

Except for the fact that innovation is clearly not the right word to define this transition, because when it comes to the innovation of design and functionality you are pretty much confined to Facebook’s framework. That, incidentally, is also the key to their success, a clean design with prominent areas where main features are easy to find, and that grows familiar on users.

On the positive side, that framework also makes things easier for designers, because you no longer have to care about layout sizes. You just need to know that all Facebook Pages can have a maximum width of 520px, and any height you wish, just taking into account that your Facebook landing page will start 135px from the top if the person viewing is logged in, and 250px from the top of the page if they aren’t logged in, to allow space to log in or register.

A similar restriction applies to developers, whose Canvas Page is limited to a maximum of 760 pixels in width by any height, although you’ll see scrollbars by default if the height exceeds the bounds of the container Facebook.com page. The Canvas Page is populated by loading within an iframe the contents of a Canvas URL that contains the HTML, JavaScript and CSS that make up the app. Any programming language that supports web programming, such as PHP, Python, Java or C#, can be used.

Furthermore, Facebook is also pushing its OpenGraph technology that enables you to integrate your Web pages into the social graph. By including Open Graph tags on your Web page, it will become the equivalent of a Facebook Page. Structured data provided via the Open Graph Protocol allows you to specify structured information about your web pages. This feature is very important because it represents a decisive step towards Web 3.0, better known as the semantic web. Facebook is bringing together its base of several hundred million users to set the standard for the upcoming semantically aware web. That really is the key for future Internet domination.

RackNine can help you create Facebook Pages, develop your Facebook Applications and implement the Open Graph API into your existing web pages.
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