I once got into a debate with someone over the proper pronunciation of "F8," the name of Facebook's sort-of-annual developer conference.
I pronounced F8 as the letter F followed by the number 8, saying I believed the name referred to the fact that the event involved an eight-hour "hackathon" right after the original debut of Facebook's groundbreaking developer platform. My partner in conversation, himself a developer, said he'd assumed it was pronounced "fate." Correct or not, he had the right idea. The logo for F8 2010, appropriately enough, depicts a tiny F next to a massive 8 in a black circle that evokes the fortune-telling billiard ball of yore sitting atop a complex map of what appear to be random points and connections.
This year, more than ever, F8 is going to be Facebook's pitch to developers, advertisers, and the world: You are destined to be part of our Web, and our universe.
Though the company's formal libretto of announcements has yet to be released, all signs point to F8 2010 as a place where Facebook will chart its next great land grab, asserting its impending dominance over online niches the company does not yet control. There may be an announcement about geolocation, the GPS-fueled craze that's currently owned by start-up Foursquare. There will likely be more news about "Credits," Facebook's gaming-focused virtual currency system.
There is expected to be further detail about the "universal 'like' button" or toolbar that Facebook plans to release to third-party publishers, and probably more about "Community Pages," a curious new feature that Facebook announced earlier this week.
Facebook wants to be everywhere. The "like" button announcement signifies that Facebook Connect, the big product release from F8 2008 (there wasn't one in '09--no reason given), just wasn't enough when it comes to Facebook's presence across the Web. It's also got fresh competition from Twitter, which may prove to be Facebook's strongest competitor since it tasked itself with unseating MySpace in market share. At one point, everyone expected Facebook's eventual big rival to be Google, which instead has tallied a history of social-media missteps.
Last week, Twitter held its first-ever developer conference, called Chirp, and all signs point to the microblogging company evolving far beyond a parade of 140-character messages from tech pundits, celebrities, and news outlets. Twitter plans to launch metadata annotations, a geolocation directory, its own URL shortener, and potentially more internal applications like the mobile clients it announced for iPhone and BlackBerry.
Facebook's response to Twitter's growth: Grow bigger. That's what we'll be seeing at F8.… Read more