Facebook Changes and What it Means for Libraries

Yesterday, April 21, 2010, was Facebook’s F8 developer conference and Facebook announced some pretty major changes that will affect how people use the Internet and how librarians might want to adjust how their library websites appear to the average use and how searching might eventually be different. 

There are a lot of websites out there that are discussing these new changes and it took me several tries to find some I could understand.  Pocket-lint has a great post by Dan Sung  and Search Engine Journal post by Selena Narayanasamy spell out the changes simply and succinctly for normal people. 

Facebook is launching several social plug-ins embedded in other web pages that will send users to things in Facebook about the site you were originally looking at. 

Sung uses CNN as an example.  If you go to CNN you will notice on the right hand side a gray bar saying Friends’ Activity and underneath it (if you are logged into FB) you will see what your FB friends are recommending and sharing.  Another type of plug-in Snug mentions is the Like plug-in now displayed on outside websites like IMDb.  Once the person clicks the Like thumb, their FB picture is listed with their name saying the and X amount of people like this.  That information is then added to your Recent Activity stream area of your Facebook page.

In my case it now has the thumbs up image and says “Michelle likes Raising Arizona (1987) on IMDb.

This makes FBs Like button very similar to Delicious or Digg and very powerful.

Sung also reports there is a Recommendations plug-in that is similar to your Activity Stream but it will suggest “relevant content based on the site you’re looking at.”  According to Search Engine Journal, uses an algorithm to analyze things you have favorited (as well as thing things your friends have favorited) and uses that information to recommend other things you might like.

There is the Log in plug-in which merges your other membership sites with your Facebook profile.  Sung says, “you’ll be able to hit the Log in widget on another site which will then give you information from your Facebook network as well as your other friends that are registered for this site.”  This is probably because Narayanasamy Facebook will be getting rid of Facebook Connect. 

Finally for the plug-ins there is the Social Bar which will show Facebook friends on the saem outside site and allow them to chat and show their “likes.”

I am not saying any or all of these plug-ins need to be on your site at this exact minute, but think of the opportunities to have the Social Bar on your library site so patrons can communicate with librarians.

Open Graph is confusing and I am not sure I completely understand it, but I will try and describe it.  It is a social platform for searching the Internet.  It is supposed to provide individually specific Internet search results based on what that person most likely is looking for.  The reason I am having a hard time grasping this is because it is supposed to be more than just the traditional approach of typing in a search term and getting results, which anybody anywhere can replicate and get the same set of results.  This Open Graph semantic and is more personal because it will be based on things that you have “liked.”  What I don’t understand is how this will work.  Often times I “like” totally different things than what I am searching for on the Internet.  As a medical librarian I do a ton of searching for medical information that I don’t ever tag that I “like” on FB.  As a normal person I do the same thing for non-medical things.  For example, we are looking to buy a new car, I have been researching cars, pricing, strategies, True Market Values, safety ratings, etc.  I have yet to tag (and probably will never) any of those sites with “like.”   So I am not sure how Open Graphs will work but if it flies then we as librarians have a whole new method of searching for information.

Docs.com is the Microsoft Office suite version of GoogleDocs on Facebook.  Facebook users will be able create, share, and edit documents with each other and together.  InformationWeek reports that Docs.com is intended to expose younger Facebook users who have grown up with the web and are beginning to use things like GoogleDocs to Microsoft Office in an online way instead of software in a box.   “Think of Docs for Facebook as the gateway drug to Office 2010.”

Facebook just released announced these changes yesterday, but already after reading through some non-techno jargon articles, I see some real changes for the web and quite possibly how librarians use it and maintain their web sites.

One thought on “Facebook Changes and What it Means for Libraries”

  1. Hi Krafty,

    I for one really appreciate the plain English run-down of Facebook’s changes and what they might mean for us. It is a bit vague how liking something on the web will be practical- I suppose there are people out there who like dermatology the way I like The Princess Bride? It does seem like a bit more duplication now with Docs.com and Google docs and then this liking business sounding a bit like StumbleUpon and others (although I keep to myself on StumbleUpon). I think it will greatly add to the ease of use- essentially turning the entire web into a Facebook. If I want to ‘like’ a charity, I can just go to their website without being forced to use the Facebook portal each time.

    It will be interesting to see how Open graph with collide with the Murdoch paywall model- I feel it is a battle of opposites at the moment.


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