Susan Mernit has a nice post on 10 things we can learn from Facebook (and other fads). I particularly liked:
2. Local is a state of mind.
7. Forget Starbucks, the third place is digital. Got 5 minutes? Need a break? That place you like to go is probably right on your screen.
8. Passive versus active still matters–but you can drive behavior. Remember those rules about people who watched TV rather than posted in online forums? It’s still that case that most people are reluctant to write, slow to put themselves out there, and cautious about privacy and sharing. BUT–smart networks like FB model behavior and get that lagging 80% to do more that they ever did before, raising the bar on all network/community activity.
I think that last point is particularly significant – one of the key success factors behind most web 2.0 applications is their low threshold to participation. You can easily sign up, and just by being there you are participating to an extent. Then it doesn’t take much more to add a few friends, post happy birthday on someone’s wall, add a shared application, etc. This is much less intimidating than posting to a forum on a VLE, say.