Liveblogging Facebook's F8: Behind the 8-Ball on a Stairway to Heaven!

Published on April 21, 2010
by Kara Swisher

So, BoomTown was at the Design Center Concourse in San Francisco today for Facebook’s f8 developers conference.

There is a giant logo of an 8-Ball looming over it all, which suggested a questioning mood.

Not at all!

Lots of stuff was announced, including ventures with partners like Microsoft (MSFT). That particular one is called, an in-the-cloud effort to smack Google (GOOG).

The staff of the social networking giant showed up in overwhelming force here, stuffing the press into the giant hall’s front rows as if we were prisoners on a United Airlines (UAUA) flight.

Free us, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg!

But, wait! At events like this past, Zuckerberg’s awkward speaking style–a younger version of Microsoft’s Bill Gates–has been painful, so this was clearly an elaborate plot by COO Sheryl Sandberg to torture the media.

Well played, Sheryl (and PR mastermind Elliot Schrage)!

While we waited and were being pummeled with loud hip music like Al-Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo Bay, I might add that it was impressive to see all the folks here–mostly dudes–paying homage to the massive growth of Facebook.

Here we go:

10:07 am PT: Zuckerberg–dressed in jeans and a hoodie and sneakers–ambled onto the stage quite casually without a lot of fuss.

BoomTown was expecting some fanfare–perhaps a brass band.

Like the geek he is at heart, Zuckerberg launched into the details right away, after a cursory nod to his company’s huge surge in size and influence.

He began talking about “social plug-in” offerings, namely a “Like” button that lets you share content from many Web sites without a lot of friction.

It is essentially Facebook’s clever plot to take over the entire Web and its conversation. I am extremely wary.

Let’s all try to remember: Facebook is Google is Facebook is Google. And so on until they both control our every breathing moment on this planet.

Like a nerd version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

But, admittedly, it was cool and innovative.

10:25 am: Zuckerberg brought out Bret Taylor, the guy from FriendFeed, which was bought by Facebook last August for $50 million.

It seems worth the dough, since Taylor is a natural presenter with the easy charm that all Zuckerberg’s money will never be able to buy.

He ran through the stuff–social plug-ins, recommendation boxes and a toolbar.

Taylor called Zuckerberg “Zuck” several times. He’s friends with Zuck!

He also is channeling Zuck with the idea that Facebook should be at the center of all things. Either a black hole or a benevolent god, depending on your point of view.

Soon, he moved onto the “Open Graph Protocol,” which he called a “valuable real-time connection” between Facebook and Web sites.

“My identity is not just defined by things on Facebook, but on things all over the Web,” added Taylor.

Things the evil geniuses of Facebook will control!

10:40 am: Taylor moved on to search, always an issue on Facebook, which still feels like it is a giant library with all the books strewn on the floor.

Yet another smack at Google! And Twitter.

He also announced that Facebook is adopting that OAuth open-source standard for authentication.

More divide and conquer.

10:45 am: Zuckerberg returned to intro with Microsoft.

Zuckerberg then closed rather awkwardly, although somewhat endearingly, saying okay-that’s-it-you-can-go-now quite abruptly.

Realizing the oddness of the moment, he pulled it back to relate an anecdote about his girlfriend, who is studying to be a doctor.

Although Zuckerberg did not quite land it, it was all about feelings and memories.

“The essence of this is that we have a lot of early memories that, man, the world can be a lot better and we can make it that way,” said Zuckerberg.

Then he made an inexplicable reference to being in heaven and how everything is exactly how we want it there.

Let’s build it, said Zuckerberg, a very mortal–but now a very, very powerful–digital god.

Next up: Press conference with Zuck and more info about his stairway to heaven!

Until Facebook gets us there, though, here’s a video of the Led Zeppelin classic, “Stairway to Heaven,” which always reminds me of slow-dancing in a school gym and forever makes me just a little bit sad for, as Zuckerberg said, feelings and memories long gone by.

Not that Facebook or any Silicon Valley Web company is ever going to be able to retrieve even a scrap of them for real, no matter how many billions of social plug-ins and Like buttons they toss all over the Web.


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