Some thoughts on Facebook surpassing Google

A recent news item from weblogs.hitwise.com describes how Facebook had surpassed Google to become the most visited website in the US.

March 15, 2010

Facebook reached an important milestone for the week ending March 13, 2010 and surpassed Google in the US to become the most visited website for the week. Facebook.com recently reached the #1 ranking on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day as well as the weekend of March 6th and 7th. The market share of visits to Facebook.com increased 185% last week as compared to the same week in 2009, while visits to Google.com increased 9% during the same time frame. Together Facebook.com and Google.com accounted for 14% of all US Internet visits last week.

I have some thoughts on this. Perhaps this will all be “well duh” but here goes anyway.

First, this has been positioned as an “either / or” kind of thing. I don’t think Google, or at least the search paradigm in general, if not Google specifically, is going anywhere. It will be here for a long time to come – it’s simply too powerful. It’s incredible how different our lives are in 2010 compared to before such powerful search engines existed. But I’ll come back to that.

I would characterize this as a strong indication that we are heading along the path toward David Gelernter’s “lifestreaming” described in the mid-1990s: “…a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life…”

Instead of going out and getting the information, the information comes to us.  Facebook isn’t a complete transition to this lifestreaming model, but it’s closer.  And Google, even with Wave and Buzz, certainly isn’t very effective at it (at least not yet).

Facebook is not the end of this road. It’s simply a step along the way. More and more, the tools and services we use are going to have to provide filtering and notification, bringing us the information we want, where it comes to us seamlessly, instead of us actively tracking it down.

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