Tuesday, 7 May 2013
We were about 17 young men and 5 young women, all of us from different ethnicities and races. I imagined we were between 17-45 years. I am from Africa, another was from Vietnam, another from Canada, well, from all over the world as well as those who were born and bred from USA generations back. Many had iPads and latest model phones which had various websites including facebook website open. We talked about different things and somehow we found ourselves steering into such conversations that depicted sacrifice, inventions and gratitude. It came to my turn to chip in. I talked of people whose ideas continue to create opportunities for others to see life as a potential and live it to the fullest. We talked about so many other issues and we exchanged e-mails and phone contacts. I left, like many in the group, to return to the library for another hour and later went back home. That day at the library was a worthwhile activity in which I experienced more interactions with people from many parts of the world. That sun break helped me break down what was eating at my mind as I was preparing to write my regular pieces for my blogs and facebook walls. Humans are a grateful species, humans are an enterprising species. We also reflect upon economics and conservation. Given the levels or our state of competence we may be able to create possibilities and opportunities where there was none. I came to this realization when I compared things here and back in Africa. My question this time was whether we can be able to say ‘Volksbook’ about facebook much the same way we say Volkswagen......about Volkswagen! Fuel/energy is to the car as the car is to the road. I wanted to relate the people to facebook, Google and the computer. I dare say, the people are likened to the energy for the car. Facebook (platform) is the car and Google (website) is the road. The computer is the key that starts the ignition. As part of those who had come out of the library to sun ourselves (a sun break) or for a smoke break for those who smoke, I could not help but note all of us were had active facebook accounts. Anecdotal remarks, plus visible interactions while we were at the break, informed my opinion on this. Smoke and sun breaks are two things one cannot do inside a library! At what standard would humans be if for instance we lacked initiators who were more skilled, far seeing and movers of things? What if there were no early adapters? I gazed around the Worcester (MA) Public library. It was an idea of a person whose deed commits it for use by other people. It is an idea of utilitarian quality. This large concrete, steel, fibre and glass edifice was the idea of a person whose mission statement is ‘to serve as a gathering place that actively promotes the free exchange of ideas in our democratic society.’ This thought triggered another. What is the relationship of facebook and the people who subscribe to it? The relationship is captured in the facebook mission statement which goes thus: ‘to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.’ Founded in 2004 as an exclusive student website it grew to become a website with over 12 million users from the entire world by 2006. At a growth rate of 10 million users per month, it currently has over 650 million active facebook accounts, 16 million facebook fan pages and it is valued at $ 80 billion. As a website, it is only surpassed by Google. Every 20 minutes at facebook, 10.2 million comments are posted. 48% of users between 18-34 years check facebook right after waking up. Almost 10% of the world population is connected to facebook by an active account. An average account user has 130 friends. 50% of active users log on to facebook any day. It is a promise of continued interactions, reading, writing, drawing, composition and connections. This and more, indeed, make facebook a ‘Volksbook’ (People’s book). The mission statement that willingly calls on as many people to join, the interesting interaction and share tools make it a motivation for continued use. Facebook has another entity it resembles in winning people’s hearts. This is the very popular Volkswagen. Outside of Germany, this little car came to be liked as the ‘people’s car’ by all definitions. It is a translation of the name Volkswagen. As of 2012, Volkswagen (people’s car) has produced 5, 771789 cars and to-date Volkswagen is the number one automobile maker in the world. The ‘Beetle’ and ‘Golf’ are the flag-bearers. They are a family car, they are dependable, they do not break down on the roads and once handled well can last many years. Many families have held on to their Volkswagens. For facebook and Volkswagen, dependability, built-in interactive apps, stirring connectivity, information medium, status symbol and utility include some of the reasons why many choose to ‘like’ these inventions.
Interesting links for further reading: