I notice on facebook that there's a chain letter calling for facebook to bring back "our facebook" (i.e. whetever user interface they had the version before the current one). That's an interesting concept because I'd never thought of the facebook website as belonging to anybody except Facebook Corp(TM).
But it does raise a useful point. You can call users ignorant (call them what you want) but it's a significant phenomenon and it's worth looking at - the perceived owership of a highly interactive website by its users.
So what can we learn from this? A couple of things:
- Don't anger your users. If they see you as tinkering with something that's theirs, you lose some customer satisfaction. And with loss of customer satisfaction, in any large scale service, there is inevitably customer drop-off. Google+ is knocking at the door, and while customers do not pay to use facebook, they are of course part of the mechanism of facebook's income stream. Facebook doesn't want to lose them.
- Facebook is in a fantastic position. Ownership means lots of things. If someone perceives that they own something, then they are more likely to put effort into it. Think of allotments vs. big public spaces. Whatever facebook did to get its customers to believe they owned it, could be replicated, and then put to use. In facebook terms "putting effort" into something is about adding content and using facebook as a communication tool. And those activities are useful to web giants in so many ways.