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Books on Facebook?

In my previous post, I had mentioned that it is a lot easier to remember things that we read about or watch, if we are able to relate those things to our own experiences. This is not just true about remembering things. This is the way we associate ourselves with certain things, certain people, and so on. We like to hang out with people whose actions remind us of our own, or remind us of our aspirations to be that way and act that way ourselves. We like to consume products that we can somehow relate to our actions and our thoughts. This is how the human brain works. It tries to relate every new experience, every new fact, to some previous experience or what has been derived from a previous experience.

If you don't believe me, I have a whole fleet of people who work in the Advertising or the Marketing industries who will back me up on this. Every advertisement has a thinking behind it. Even before one is conceptualized, the basic thinking behind it will be 'How can I make the viewer feel what I have to say or what I have to show is relevant to him?'. If you think of the ads that you like and that you don't, they will almost surely have brought up memories of similar experiences or similar thoughts. Its the job of a marketer to figure out what your experiences have been and what your thoughts are, and the job of an advertiser is to conceptualize a video-clip, or a text message, or a banner, or a poster, or anything at all that will bring up certain memories in your head and trigger your brain into believing that the product/service being advertised is the best way to get back those memories (if they're good ones), and to prevent those incidents from happening again (if they're bad ones).

Why do you think Facebook has such a huge valuation? Its precisely because of the connection that it provides. It is the ultimate link. It tells the advertisers absolutely everything that it knows about you. This is not just the facts about you and your experiences. This is information in the form that the marketers want it. This is information about you, the way you wish to project it to others. This is the information that marketing firms would kill for.

Now that Facebook has all this information with it, can it use it in ways that have the users' benefits being given a higher priority over the benefits of the marketers? I feel that it has a tremendous opportunity to do some good for the society. But the ability? Well, perhaps not yet. But surely in a few years if it gets to work. And there's good reason for it to get to work too. After all, it can make a good amount of money out of it too! Here's how.

Getting back to my claim that we find it easier to understand and recollect things when we're able to relate them to our own thoughts and experiences, Facebook can step in and customize e-books. Well, at least text books for starters. Nearly every text book uses examples to clarify most concepts it introduces. As the books are written with a large audience at mind, the examples are chosen such that they are something that a majority of the targeted audience can relate to (just like any ad). Facebook can step in here and perhaps come up with an algorithm that will take a look at the standard example used in the book, look at the personal data it has about the one reading the book, and then frames a new example that contains instances from the user's data. It could then sell those e-books at a premium (and rightly so).

What do you think?

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