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Supplement to “Gathering the Family Electronically”

Tim O’Shaughnessy, co-founder and CEO of LivingSocial, the company that created popular Facebook applications “Pick Your Five” and “Visual Bookshelf”–which, respectively, let users make lists of their top five favorite restaurants or movies, or anything else for that matter, and share reviews of books they are currently reading–says we’ve only seen the beginning of Facebook’s potential.

Just five years old, with 300 million users worldwide, Facebook–created by Harvard students in 2004–is currently the premier social networking site on the Web.

It’s where you go to see what your friends and family are up to.

But O’Shaughnessy believes in another five years’ time, it may also be where you go to get the news feeds you need, as well as info on local events and deals in your own hometown.

“I would totally anticipate that five years from now, it will be drastically different,” O’Shaughnessy says of Facebook. “I think Facebook hasn’t really nailed the news component of things so much. People go to Facebook so often. I think if they could figure out how to incorporate the news piece into it, people would really like that.”

Right now, O’Shaughnessy’s company, LivingSocial, is testing a new Facebook application called LivingSocial Deals that aims to help drive Facebook users in a given locale to area restaurants, spas, sports, and other fun events with special coupons and promotions.

“So, we’re trying to use online transactions to influence offline behavior,” O’Shaughnessy explains.

In a July Newsweek story, writer Kurt Soller anticipated that Facebook’s face will change over the next five years to become a new kind of social network, one where your friends provide you with information you need (as opposed to information you want).

“So, instead of just hearing what your friends and family are doing that day, it will become a site where you can ask–and get answers to–all kinds of questions that draw on the expertise of friends and family in the know.”

So, for example, when you want to know which is the best hotel to visit in Myrtle Beach, or who has the best pizza in Chicago, you can easily start a discussion thread among friends or family who’ve been there.

To read the Kentucky Living December 2009 feature that goes along with this supplement, go to Gathering the Family Electronically.

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