Monday, September 29, 2008

Narcissisms OId and New

Dan Piepenbring at if:book on Facebook's displacement of yearbooks, and what that tells us about the future of the book:

Despite the presence of “book” in its title, few critics to my knowledge have construed Facebook as the ultimate electronic yearbook. They focus instead on its broader “social network” applications. That’s all well and good, but what is Facebook if not the quintessential model of an electronic book done right?...

The site, then, is a better yearbook than any yearbook can be. It suggests that the networked screen is, at least for this purpose, an infinitely more versatile medium than the static page. In considering Facebook as an electronic book rather than as a mere web franchise, we see how this new medium can improve upon the tried-and-true formulas of the print age...

There’s arguably another, bleaker lesson to be learned here, which is that Facebook’s true victory over print is predicated on its ability to massage our narcissism. Perhaps MicCalifornia, a commenter on the Economist piece, says it best: “The first thing we do when we get our yearbooks is see how many pictures we are in. Who needs it when with Facebook, I am in all the pictures.”

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