Facebook is AOL 2.0

While talking about the redesigned Vimeo (one of the video sites where I post), Jason Kottke made an interesting remark about Facebook:

“Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace…not in terms of closed versus open (you do know that Facebook is AOL 2.0, right?) but in terms of being a bit more well thought out and not as, well, ugly (and not just in the aesthetic sense).” (emphasis mine)

I love the ‘Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace’–so true.

But the comment I found interesting was that Facebook is AOL 2.0.


That’s an interesting comparison. AOL was a closed system where you had to be a member to participate in. That’s the same deal with Facebook. Within that system you have a ton of things to do (thanks to the new applications). While that closed system allows for a lot of cool stuff, it also hinders a lot of cool uses (though perhaps that’s a good thing, especially when you look at MySpace today). It always kind of bugged me that AOL was this closed system that outsiders couldn’t participate in.

But I think the big difference is that AOL was a dial-up subscription service. You had to pay to be a part of their little universe and couldn’t access it from the Internet at large (maybe you could, but nobody signed up for AOL unless they were using it as their Internet access). Facebook, on the other hand, is free. And there’s no confusing issue with providing access. Facebook is a site like any other you visit.

It’s still an interesting comparison. Especially because things didn’t work out so well for AOL. I’m not sure what that means (if anything) for Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Facebook is AOL 2.0”

  1. This is an interesting, thoughtful post, but it’s more fun to point out that if Facebook were really like AOL, there would be millions of Facebook CDs in our country’s landfills and only people over 50 who didn’t know better would be using Facebook. ;)

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