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Facebook: Fad or Framework?

Steve Ballmer may have been showing his age last week, when he called out the Facebook social networking site as a "fad" and questioned the value of the technology used to make it go.

"I think these things [social networks] are going to have some legs, and yet there's a faddishness, a faddish nature about anything that basically appeals to younger people," Ballmer was quoted as saying in an Oct. 2 article in the Times Online. You can read the full article here.

Reading this, I can almost picture Ballmer out on his porch, in boxer shorts and black socks, yelling at a bunch of neighborhood kids to get off his lawn.

One of those kids might be Rodney Rumford. He's president of a technology and strategy firm that focuses on Facebook application development.

"What he doesn't understand is Facebook literally changes the way people communicate," Rumford said. "It provides increased efficiency in discovering information and sharing information, and information finds me...Facebook is a social networking site. But if you float up 10,000 feet, it's really a communication platform."

What's more, Rumford thinks that communication platform is going to have a broad impact on programmers -- a very broad impact. "Every developer needs to know HTML, correct? I think in five years, every developer is going to have to know [Facebook Markup Language] on a basic level," Rumford said.

Is Ballmer getting crotchety or is Rumford just getting way ahead of himself? You tell me. Is there a role for a Facebook-type platform in corporate development and, if so, what might we expect from it? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 10/08/2007 at 1:15 PM


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