We were struck by something today, as we pored over Facebook’s redesign looking for the music implications. You can even see it in the current (i.e. old, already un-hip) version of Facebook that most of us are still using:
You’ve probably noticed it before: “Search for people, places and things.” This imperative sentence, primarily made up of the definition of a noun, gets even bigger in the next version of Facebook:
Essentially, Facebook is a social search engine for and real-time directory of nouns: people, places, and things. Or, rather, half of it is. The other (newer) half is verbs.
In September, 2011, at an event similar to the one that took place today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new, at the time, mission: to start tracking not only nouns — the people, places, and things we care about — but also what people are listening to, reading, and watching.
“This year, we’re adding verbs,” as The Atlantic put it, an article that coined the term “Zuckerverb” to describe them. “We’re going to make it so you can connect to anything in any way you want [as part of] building this language for how people connect.”
In the new version of Facebook, these nouns and verbs get more refined, so you can see what your people are doing at places with things in even more ways.
As Zuckerberg put it in 2011, it’s all about “building this language for how people connect.” And in doing so, Facebook is focusing, quite literally, on the main building blocks of language.
Others have surely noticed this too, but still, it’s an interesting way to think about Facebook: as a bunch of nouns meeting a bunch of verbs, the whole thing documented for posterity. That’s really all it is, which is quite a lot indeed.