The Future of Connectivity and Why Mark Zuckerberg Didn't Invent Facebook


Thanks to the imaginative and scrupulous writing of Nate St. Pierre earlier this month, we can see how Facebook (at least, in concept) could have been invented by Abraham Lincoln, complete with profile picture, personal info, status updates, and shared material. Nate sums up Lincoln’s patent application in his post:

Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located collection of documents where “every Man may have his own page, where he might discuss his Family, his Work, and his Various Endeavors.”

He went on to propose that “each Man may decide if he shall make his page Available to the entire Town, or only to those with whom he has established Family or Friendship.” Evidently there was to be someone overseeing this collection of documents, and he would somehow know which pages anyone could look at, and which ones only certain people could see (it wasn’t quite clear in the application). Lincoln stated that these documents could be updated “at any time deemed Fit or Necessary,” so that anyone in town could know what was going on in their friends’ lives “without being Present in Body.”

Of course, this was set in 1845 and entirely invented by Nate but it seems plausible because the drive for people to be connected precedes the web and even the printed page. Technology has just facilitated it. Connecting with friends was around long before Lincoln’s time and will continue to be so far into the future. The future format/platform for human connectivity however, remains to be seen.

Remember that show in the early 80’s? Buck Rogers in the 21st Century? Well, it’s here and I am not sporting a fancy utility belt like Erin Gray and I don’t have a Twiki. The closest I come is a Roomba!). That’s how good we are at predicting the future. So just as Lincoln probably could not foresee our current Present, wherein his invention is executed on the web, we cannot grasp a future where the web may take the current relevance of a printed newspaper. Hard to imagine?

Forbes predicts that Google and Facebook are going to “completely disappear in the next 5 years.” Eric Jackson wrote last month that we will never have a Web 3.0 and he blames the migration to mobile. That, and expert research that organizations often cannot bridge the “mismatch between their native product strategy and the market environment.” In the tech world, this gap widens exponentially fast. As an example, Jackson points out Google’s failed migration into social: Google Plus. And admit it, from the user experience, we all know Facebook Mobile just… (insert inappropriate verb here)!

So who will win the eyeballs and time of the future? The one who dreams up the best way for most of us to stay connected. This medium, even of just five years out, may not even exist today. But it sounds like it’s the ticket to landing a spot on the cover of Forbes. Magazine… I know, isn’t that so 19th Century?!

photo credit: stock xchng