According to this article the Facebook Like button has been one of the guiding forces of defining how we interact with content on the web today. To be honest I can’t remember what the article said but I thought it was a decent enough lead in, so I went with that. However what I said isn’t really such a bold claim if you take into account all the sites that already have the Like button somewhere on the page. I’m sitting here, trying to think of non-sterotypical hyperbole of how frequently the like button is used on the web as a way of avoiding doing any form of research on what I am writing about. The problem being, I am not really in the most verbally creative states of mind just yet… so lets just say it’s a lot… like really a lot… like over 12.
As much as I want to hate on Facebook, the idea of a Like button is a simple and intuitive concept, it’s difficult to see why it wouldn’t work. Without doing any research or caring about whether I am right or not, the Digg button existed long before the Like button. If things were different and Digg was a little more cautious with it’s version 4 overhaul and it’s users weren’t so whiny, we may have still been Digging stuff. I’d like to think that the Digg button was the precursor to the Like button. The concept is not new by any means, but being in the right place at the right time has seen a huge uptake of the like button.
As an aside I find the corporate Like culture quite weird. It’s used as a form of currency, Like me and you can have this download. Like me and you can enter this competition, you had to make a purchase previously. You have to like me before you can interact with me. What is that shit all about? Companies are collecting them, kind of like XBOX achievement points but for corporates – to see who has the biggest dick. I am not saying that is all it’s good for, as a content provider I can see how it may have value as a feedback system. But… I’m getting sidetracked.
The undeniable success of the Like button has spawned some Like clones. Google’s +1 is an obvious one, while Behance has the Appreciate This seal of approval at the bottom. There is also Flattr, but that’s different. It’s the put your money where you mouth is of Like buttons, the put up or shut up – there are direct real world consequences for clicking a Flattr button. That’s just three examples, I’m sure there are many others and I have no doubt many others will follow suit.
With everyone wanting to cut out their own little wordy real estate on the web, I was wondering why we can’t reuse. Will I be allowed to like stuff in a non Facebook way? They probably won’t, but why can’t Microsoft, Google or Apple let users Like stuff? I am not saying they would want to either but I sure would like to see someone try. What would happen? Litigation? Even if the button were branded differently so there was no confusion? I don’t know? A Nike Like or something? I mean, people were liking stuff long before the internet. Liking something has always been a natural form of expression. Why can’t we reuse it? Surely you can’t hold a monopoly on liking stuff?