By Anne Collier
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s status update yesterday was about how the site had passed 1 billion active users a month, the Washington Post reported, and Business Week has an interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about his service’s “next billion.” In it, after the question “How big are Facebook’s ambitions in areas like health care, finance, and government?”, Zuckerberg makes an interesting observation about offline-life correlations that show up in online social networking. I’m probably not completely in sync with what he’s talking about, but I can see that – based on what’s going on there – we (humanity) stand to learn a lot from our observations of what’s happening in these giant social utilities. I can see that, even as user-growth flattens out, we may start to see insights grow exponentially. And those insights will have some interesting effects on offline life – kind of like a critical mass of humanity looking in the mirror.
For an at-a-glance feel for exponential growth, go to the Post’s look at growth in active users since the end of 2004, when Facebook passed the 1 million mark. In the Business Week interview, Zuckerberg also refers to exponential growth in the amount of information users are sharing. “There is this Facebook equivalent of Moore’s Law. Each year the amount of stuff that each individual shares is growing at this exponential rate.” That gives pause. When do people reach the point of diminishing returns with that? Parents are certainly already thinking about it! [See also Facebook’s “The Things That Connect Us” video marking this slightly mind-blowing development: one place where a billion people are connected.]