What it takes to change online behavior

June 22, 2007, 5:30 PM UTC
Fortune

David Kirkpatrick and I have been having a cordial argument about Facebook. He thinks it’s going to be the next big thing. I think it’s really annoying. He likes to send me messages through Facebook, which then notifies me, by email, that I have a message on Facebook from David. I ask him to send me emails instead. I just can’t see myself ever spending significant amounts of time on Facebook. It’s cute and all, but, well, I don’t know, it’s just not my thing.

That got me thinking about just how difficult it is to change one’s behavior online. I believe that kids use Facebook and love it, and I’m sure many will keep using it when they grow up. Most, however, will have to attend meetings and do actual work during the day — unless, of course, they become journalists — and therefore won’t have the time to see who is “poking” them on Facebook.

Similarly, I was stunned by news that Google (GOOG) now has 56% of the U.S. search market, up from 49% a year ago. Then again, I’m sort of surprised anyone doesn’t use Google. I keep meaning to spend a whole day using Ask.com’s search. (Jim: LOVE the new commercials.) But then I forget, so ingrained is Google in my search psyche. (The IAC (IAC) unit also didn’t do as good a job of helping me find a news story about search marketshare as Google did.) Then there’s Google Finance, which is doing some really neat stuff — and has started a new blog (Katie, you’re a blogger!). I like Google Finance. But I rarely use it. Yahoo (YHOO) Finance has been my browser home page for about … forever. I just can’t conceive of not seeing Yahoo Finance when I go online.

What will it take to change that?