Social Life: Happy Birthday Facebook!

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Artist's impression of Mark Zuckerberg celebrating Facebook's 10th birthday. Photo / AP and Microsoft Paint
Artist's impression of Mark Zuckerberg celebrating Facebook's 10th birthday. Photo / AP and Microsoft Paint

Hello, I'm Paul Harper, social media editor of the New Zealand Herald. Welcome to another installment of Social Life, a blog thing I do about social media. Enjoy.

Warning, there is a Vine below, so it may be auto-playing, which would explain why there is noise coming out of your speakers. Click on the video to stop it.

Happy 10th birthday Facebook!

This week, the world's most popular social networking site Facebook turned the big one-oh. In a decade, Facebook has exploded from its humble beginnings as "thefacebook" in Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room in 2004, to the website with more than 1 billion users.

As this gallery shows Facebook has come a long way. Zuckerberg, in a post on Facebook (where else?), pinned down his website's success to one thing - "we just cared more".

"While some doubted that connecting the world was actually important, we were building. While others doubted that this would be sustainable, you were forming lasting connections.

"We just cared more about connecting the world than anyone else. And we still do today."

To celebrate their birthday, Facebook have packaged highlights looking back at each users time on Facebook. I've seen some call it "uplifting", I find it depressing, my colleague Hayden Donnell says it's"terrifying". Check out yours here (doesn't work if you don't have Facebook, FYI).

So what if Facebook had never been invented? Time's tech writer Harry McCracken ponders an alternative reality - and it isn't one dominated by MySpace.

The Independent has listed 10 things you didn't know about Facebook, such as why Facebook is blue.

And here is satire website The Onion's humorous take on 10 years of Facebook.

So where to now for Facebook? The site faces challenges, particularly the trend of younger users abandoning Facebook in favour of apps such as Snapchat and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook). Jim Macnamara, professor of public communication at the University of Technology, Sydney, ponders what the next 10 years will bring for Facebook here.

One new development that does bode well for the future of Facebook is the new app Paper (while only available in the US at this stage, there are ways around that). I wrote about the app last week before its release and have since had a bit of a play. Here are my thoughts.

The app is slick and easy to navigate, although users will have to get used to horizontal scrolling instead of the traditional vertical scroll. Photos are a real focus of the new app, with large images dominating the screen, and a cool feature where users can pan around high resolution photos by tilting their phone.

Users can customise their paper, selecting sections which interest them (most importantly there is a cute animal section). Despite my initial concerns the content curated by Facebook is very good. And even if the news websites you like are not included in the sections provided, you will still see posts from those pages on your timeline, so it isn't an issue.

If there's any criticism it would be that it can take a while for all the images to load, and that the text is too small. I imagine Paper would look amazing on a tablet.

Facebook has opted not to replace the current app with Paper, therefore avoiding the inevitable backlash from users resistant to change, but it would surprise me if most users don't ditch the sometimes painful Facebook app for the far superior Paper.

Kiwis in the snow

Over the next few weeks, 15 Kiwis will compete for gold at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The New Zealand Olympic Team is worth a follow on Facebook and Twitter to date with the latest from the Kiwi athletes (as is @nzheraldsport, of course!).

Here's a list of all our athletes on Twitter, be sure to follow them and tweet them your support.

Meanwhile the world's journalists in Sochi have used Twitter to share their horror hotel experiences ahead of the Winter Olympics.

The organisers hit back, saying Western media were deliberately sabotaging the games, however in doing so let slip an amazing revelation.

While it's perfectly valid in my opinion for journos sent to cover the games to question Sochi's readiness to host the event, some, including former champion chess player and Russian political activist Garry Kasparov, challenged journalists to ask hard questions in their reports from Russia.

Selfies not unhealthies

Does social media make us more narcissistic? Could there be an upside to social media narcissism? Vanessa Hill, the social media advisor for Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, argues the benefits of social media narcissism in this Braincraft video. Well worth a watch.

Heard it through the great Vine (sorry, that was rubbish)

Last week, I asked for recommendations of New Zealand's best vine users. Comedian Jesse Mulligan suggested I check out the work of @alicegalletly. So I did. And her Vines were awesome.

I was only her 100th follower, so definitely check out her work and give her a follow. Her last Vine was four months ago, so Alice, if you are reading this, could you please make more Vines? Thanks.

If there's a New Zealander's Vine account you reckon deserves publicity let me know.

Tweets of the week

Here's a bunch of tweets that some of you did that I like. Sorry, they're really political this week.

Remember if you've seen any great Kiwi Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, Youtube or Pintrest accounts that deserve wider attention, or there's a campaign on social that deserves a plug, let me know me. Suggestions are also welcome. I'm on Twitter here, Instagram here and Vine here. You can also email me here. Send abuse here.

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