research design laboratory


They are the keepers of much of our personal information and they're getting increasingly pervasive, yet suddenly easier on the eyes.

The release of Facebook's Timeline, Google's Google+ and Apple's iCloud all represent watershed developments in how we'll communicate and access our personal information going forth. Convenience, efficiency and broad user penetration have made putting all of our digital eggs into one of these big baskets an increasingly easy proposition. And one of the aspects that may have once limited the Facebook and the Google, their notoriously ugly UI, seems much less limiting these days. It kills me to say it, but Facebook's new Timeline makes the world's largest social network actually look, well...good. And that whole Google+ circles interface—kinda tasty. Meanwhile, the synchronistic convenience of iCloud makes entrusting our personal information with a large corporation that much more comfortable and second nature.

Now, more than ever, organizations can rely entirely on Facebook to host their content rather than having their own private space on the internet. This reality has significant implications on how we interact online. I personally see this as a threat, since I'm an advocate for private digital space—I help people build and maintain private digital spaces for a living. Like all of our landscapes, digital or physical, I see value in the differences. I feel that we as individuals should define our digital personas, not Facebook.

Social Networks are amazingly powerful. They have helped our digital spaces emerge in compelling ways. But let's not forget, Facebook and Google do not define what a social network is, their circles just have more friends.