I was reading an article on Facebook’s IPO and it brought up childhood memories. My father had a small printing and publishing company…and I grew up surrounded by the work and language of publishing and printing.
One of those terms – ‘ephemera’ – was a term we constantly used for flyers, brochures, catalogs…all the printed matter that existed only briefly. It was advertising.
The financial substance of Facebook – their business model – is currently based upon what businesses are willing to pay for ephemera (advertising). Their content – what we called books and publications in my father’s shop – is personal/insitutional information, primarily a stream of brief communications over time.
Facebook technology is a communication tool, like a cell phone or written letter. It seems the wealth creation potential of Facebook depends on how meaningfully that tool is used. High on the meaning meter is the Arab Spring, low on the meaning meter is personal gossip. The attractiveness of the tool has been explosive…whether it remains, and how high barriers to entry are for others, depends on how meaningfully Facebook develops added services and additional tools.
It will also be a test of the motivation of the Founders. Instant enormous wealth will have a profound psychological impact.