Facebook and Twitter lend themselves well to a comparison between the two main strategy games in the world, chess in the western world, and go (wei-chi, baduk) in the eastern world.
Chess is built up on a complex rules base, difficult to learn, and only capable of a pre-determined number of possibilities. That’s why the best player in the world is now a computer program, it lends itself to analysis. The complex rules lead to a self-limiting number of possibilities. Facebook is the chess of social media, complex with ever more add-ons and plug-ins.
Go begins on an empty board, there is only one type of piece on each side that never moves once it is placed, and can be learned in a couple of minutes. But by keeping the rules simple, the possibilities are near infinite. The best Go program in the world can’t even beat a talented amateur. There was a million dollar prize offered for a program that could beat a master, I even worked for a number of years on one myself. Simplicity builds to a much larger flexibility and near infinite number of possibilities. Twitter is the Go of social media, simple and pretty much unchanging in it’s basic rule set, but very adaptable at the same time.
There is a place for chess and go in the world, and a place for Facebook and Twitter. But it takes a different type of strategy when one moves from one to another. I hope Facebook doesn’t try to twitterize itself, that’s not what it’s about, and it wouldn’t work. It’s a different game.