And Now, For No Particular Reason, a Rant About Facebook

A friend of mine noted recently that I seemed a little antagonistic about Facebook recently — mostly on my Facebook account, which is some irony for you — and wanted to know what I had against it. The answer is simple enough: Facebook is what happens to the Web when you hit it with the stupid stick. It’s a dumbed-down version of the functionality the Web already had, just not all in one place at one time.

Facebook has made substandard versions of everything on the Web, bundled it together and somehow found itself being lauded for it, as if AOL, Friendster and MySpace had never managed the same slightly embarrassing trick. Facebook had the advantage of not being saddled with AOL’s last-gen baggage, Friendster’s too-early-for-its-moment-ness, or MySpace’s aggressive ugliness, and it had the largely accidental advantage of being upmarket first — it was originally limited to college students and gaining some cachet therein — before it let in the rabble. But the idea that it’s doing something better, new or innovative is largely PR and faffery. Zuckerberg is in fact not a genius; he’s an ambitious nerd who was in the right place at the right time, and was apparently willing to be a ruthless dick when he had to be. Now he has billions because of it. Good for him. It doesn’t make me like his monstrosity any better.

Which is of course fine. The fact is Facebook isn’t made for someone like me, who once handrolled his own html code and then uploaded it using UNIX commands because he was excited to have his own Web site, and back in 1993 that’s how you did it. I’ve been maintaining and actively updating my own site in one form or another for the better part of two decades now, and (quite obviously) like to write at length on whatever thought is passing through my brain at the moment. Committed loggorheic nerds like me don’t need something like Facebook. It’s made for normal people, the ones who just want to stay in contact with friends and post pictures for them to see and maybe play a game or two, and have a single convenient place to do all that sort of stuff online. Facebook is the Web hit with a stupid stick, but that doesn’t mean people are stupid for using it. They see Facebook as letting them do the things they want to do, and not making them jump through a bunch of hoops to do it. Again: Fine.

But again, also: Not really for me. I look at Facebook and what I mostly see are a bunch of seemingly arbitrary and annoying functionality choices. A mail system that doesn’t have a Bcc function doesn’t belong in the 21st Century. Facebook shouldn’t be telling me how many “friends” I should have, especially when there’s clearly no technological impetus for it. Its grasping attempts to get its hooks into every single thing I do feels like being groped by an overly obnoxious salesman. Its general ethos that I need to get over the concept of privacy makes me want to shove a camera lens up Zuckerberg’s left nostril 24 hours a day and ask him if he’d like for his company to rethink that position. Basically there’s very little Facebook does, either as a technological platform or as a company, that doesn’t remind me that “banal mediocrity” is apparently the highest accolade one can aspire to at that particular organization.

So, you ask, why do I use Facebook? The answer is obvious: Because other folks do, and they’re happy with it and I don’t mind making it easy for them to get in touch with me. But my Facebook immersion is relatively shallow; I save the majority of my deep thoughts for this Web site and the majority of my short thoughts for Twitter, so Facebook tends to get whatever’s left. I don’t use much there that would allow some obnoxious third-party program to either clutter up my wall or inform all my friends that I’ve bought a pig in a video game; they don’t give a crap and I wouldn’t want to inflict that information on them. I work on the assumption that Facebook is working by default to make me look like an asshole to everyone who’s connected to me, because I’ve seen it do it to others. As a result I think I’ve managed to avoid being such to others there. Or at the very least, if I’m an ass on Facebook, it’s my own doing and not because of Facebook. Which is all I can ask for.

I really do wish Facebook were smarter and less obnoxious to use. I wish I could sign on to the damn thing and not have the first thing I feel be exasperation at the aggressive dimness of its UI and its functionality. I wish I could like Facebook. But I don’t, and I’m having a hard time seeing how I ever will. I understand there’s a value for Facebook making itself the stupid version of the Web. I really really really wish there wasn’t.

So what’s left to me is to take comfort in the fact that eventually Facebook is likely to go the way of all companies that are stupid versions of the Web. This is not to say that Facebook will ever go away completely — its obtuse process for deleting one’s account at the very least assures it will always be able to brag of its membership rolls. But you know what, I still have accounts for AOL, Friendster and MySpace. Ask me how often I use them.

156 thoughts on “And Now, For No Particular Reason, a Rant About Facebook

  1. You are funny. I don’t think you have to “like” Facebook. Why should you? You are successful and popular in your own rights, you have personal and business fans as well as a plethora of odd fans. I do appreciate you using it and allowing me a bit more contact with you that I probably wouldn’t have other wise. So, thank you for being so tolerant and patient.
    I will agree that Facebook is a pain in the Rear, but I appreciate the simplicity and the ability to use it as I want to use it. I turn down apps, only accept Friends as people I know or have regular dialogue with, most importantly though is the ability to look for people. I will admit that Facebook just helped me find two extremely important people that I lost more than fourteen years ago that I haven’t been able to find by conventional methods. So while it is aggravating, I can’t help but be thankful for it.

  2. Exactly this. Facebook is one short, shuffling step sidewise from Prodigy-era AOL’s walled garden of astro-turf. And did we really go from SimCity in 1989 to Farmville in 2010? That’s like sending astronauts to the moon in 1969 and then bopping around in LEO for the next fourty…
    Oh wait.

  3. It’s beyond aggravating. I don’t use any of the apps. The privacy thing is beyond being stupid. It’s fun to chat with my sister, look in on the nephews and nieces, caught up with some cousins and friends from long ago … not an entire waste of time, but it has that potential.

  4. Andrew Hackard:

    Not very!

    Also, for those of you who might not know, allow me to disclose that I once worked for AOL, first onstaff during its “walled garden” era, and then after that for some time as a consultant.

  5. I write software for my living. I’ve written multiple webapps using various different technologies. I understand how they’re supposed to work. I can’t for the life of me figure out how Facebook works.

    Maybe I’m just dim, but when I look at it, things are happening, things get updated and I don’t know why. I once replied to what seemed to be a personal message to me and instead of going to everyone, it seemed like it was posted for everyone to see. Or maybe not, I couldn’t tell. Either way, it’s so counter-intuitive to me that I can’t stand to use it.

  6. I use Facebook because it’s the single most convenient way to keep in touch with a fairly large, fairly far-flung extended family, and because I have quite a few friends who only seem to have a Facebook presence. Plus, pictures.

    But am I happy about it? Not really, no.

  7. Google did more to kill the Internet as it existed in the 1990’s than Facebook has in that it made the Internet simpler to use, but also flushed away many of those wierd little internet backwaters that used to exist by making them irrelevant. Why visit a fan made site about your favourite author when you can just look at the information about them in Wikipedia (interestingly if you search for information on a lot of topics through Google, the Wikipedia entry is up near the top results – so a lot of that anarchic distributed nature has gone out the window)

    The number of sites that people visit to obtain information has been dropping. The vast majority of people only visit a small number of sites. In successfully organizing the internet, Google homogenized it (and to an extent neutered its anarchic distributed nature)

    Facebook is just another point along that path to simplification. If people only need to visit 10 sites, why not make it that they only have to visit 5 or 1.

  8. Here’s the thing that never fails to get under my skin about Facebook: I have already said I am NOT ATTENDING this event, and yet Facebook continues to keep it in my calendar. Granted, with a “Not Attending” tag, but, honestly, who looks at their calendar to keep track of the events they aren’t attending?

  9. Just this evening, while listening to radio KDFC (tagline: “Classic– and then some”), I found myself pondering if my default stance w.r.t. Facebook – best summarized as “GTFO” – was perhaps too extreme. This article could not have come at a better moment.

    Thank you, John. Thank you so very much!

    – CJH / esper (Hand-rolling since I was knee-high to a duck)

  10. What amuses me is Facebook’s insane valuation. 50 billion dollars? Really? The market capitalization for Boeing is 53 billion dollars. So for 50 billion dollars you could theoretically buy Facebook, which consists of nothing more than a bunch of servers, a huge database of users (who can leave at any time) and some IP, which is probably not too stunning. Or for three billion more you can buy Boeing and get all of their physical plant, all of their IP (which is a heck of a lot more impressive than Facebook’s) and you can build your own bombers, cruise missiles and airliners. Call me old fashioned, but owning your very own military industrial complex sounds a lot cooler than owning a bunch of geeks and server farms. I also love that Goldman Sachs isn’t peddling their Facebook quasi-IPO in the United States because of all of those inconvenient regulations we have here, like the ones that say that if you want to play in the public markets you have to open your books, and that you can’t get around this by pretending to be a private company with a large number of shareholders and an extremely large valuation. How exactly does Facebook make money? How much money is there in Farmville and ads? Even if Facebook goes whole hog with aggressive data mining how much money can they make, and bear in mind if Facebook does go whole hog with data mining it’s going to cost them users. If there was ever an example of the “greater fool” school of marketing a stock Facebook is it.

  11. Do the opinions you expressed above carry over to FacebookConnect as well? I can certainly see where you are coming from, however FacebookConnect is arguably the greatest innovation the company has made since the launch of their original open version. Once sites creatively and successfully integrate FacebookConnect there will be significant time savings for web users who try new sites and are forced to continually input user account information (not to mention be concerned about the security of the site). Can you respond to this please? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  12. I’m starting to feel like there’s a trend of male geeks of a certain age decrying the mainstreaming of geekery, and it’s starting to make me uncomfortable.

    You may have read Patton Oswalt’s recent Wired article, where he talked about how Geek Culture has to die so that it can be reborn, and longing for the days when his otaku was in tact and it was “hard” to be a geek. Now, it’s too easy. Now ANYONE can be a geek about something, and it’s ruining his little party, poor baby. When I read that article, I couldn’t help but think it came from a really privileged white male place. Not “privileged” because of money (though geekery tends to be expensive if you want to collect everything, so those with more money tend to be the geeks with the most toys), but because of the access he had to nerdly things by virtue of being a white suburban male. He might have felt all “non-conformist” at the time, but white suburban males were allowed to be that, and were being that all over the place, to the point that something like Revenge of the Nerds can get made, and the titular “nerds” are all skinny white guys. He probably hung out with one girl who was interested in the same things, and assumed the rest weren’t, or couldn’t be. (And he probably didn’t consider DATING the “cool” geek girl he hung out with, because she’s not actually a girl, you know. Not one you’d actually want to date. She’s one of the boys.) I don’t know if he hung out with any black or brown kids to play D&D, but I don’t think it’s likely.

    I’m 31, and I’ve loved sci-fi (Star Trek, Ray Bradbury and Asimov books, Alien Nation, Space Camp, etc) my whole life. But I didn’t fully embrace being geeky until I was in my mid-twenties, when a friend of mine introduced me to comics by making me read Gaiman’s Sandman. Now, there’s hardly a Wednesday that goes by when I’m not at the comic shop. And what I LOVE are the efforts to reach out to new readers – readers like me – who can’t turn back the hands of time and catch up on eons of backstory, but shouldn’t have to be punished for it. I also LOVE the fact that I can go to stuff like Wikipedia (much to Oswalt’s dismay) to fill in any gaps in my comics knowledge so that I can move forward in Geek Culture, rather than be bogged down by the past.

    What does this have to do with your Facebook post? :)

    It seems that your gripe with Facebook has less to do with what it actually does, and more to do with what you could make it do better. Which is all very well and good. I’m glad that you’re capable of working your own website, etc. And I know that you very clearly stated in your post that people aren’t stupid for using Facebook, and that it’s just not for you, and all the other well-placed disclaimers to make sure people know you’re not elitist before you say things that make you sound like elitist…

    But why did you feel the need to say it at all? And I just don’t mean here – I know you’re responding to a friend here. Why, if Facebook is fine for other people, just not for you, and if people aren’t stupid for using it, why did you feel the need to be antagonistic on Facebook about Facebook in the first place, making people feel lesser for using it? Saying “I’M smart enough to not need Facebook, but Facebook is for NORMAL people who AREN’T as smart as me” is a really elitist thing to say. And I’m pointing it out, because it’s one of several instances I’ve started to notice lately of the above-mentioned male geeks of a certain age talking crap about something that’s become mainstream. It smacks of little boys pulling up the ladder to their tree house. And I have to say that, as a Puerto Rican woman who has embraced her geekiness only within the past ten years, I am bothered when I hear that sort of thing. I think it contributes to the very climate of ostracizing and elitism that geeks are supposedly running from. So, the answer to getting picked on and not getting to play in the cool kids’ reindeer games when you’re little is, what, create NEW reindeer games that other people can’t get into? I hate that idea.

    Speaking specifically to Facebook, when you say Zuckerberg isn’t a genius, I think you’re missing something. No, he might not be the best coder on the block. And yes, there were networking sites before Facebook. But I think you underestimate the brilliance of a good idea. Not just a good invention, but the idea to take a good invention and put it out there at the right time to the right people. Yes, Zuckerberg was a dick, but honestly, he took an idea and ran with it well. Had Facebook not gotten off the ground, for whatever reason, he wouldn’t have been sued, and no one would’ve cared. People only started caring when it started making money. And that just seems like sour grapes. You call it “the largely accidental advantage of being upmarket first.” But, that’s everything. Anyone can have an idea, but ideas are nothing if you do nothing with them, and I think that a big part of genius is knowing when to move on an idea rather than shove it in a drawer (or a folder on your desktop). I’m not saying he did everything (or anything) right in handling any of this. But I am saying that he’s not the only person in that scenario not handling things properly.

    Lastly, re: Facebook and privacy – now, I’m not a shy person. I put myself out there on the internet pretty much as is (I don’t use Facebook filters either, because I present the same self to my friends that I do to their kids or their parents), and the things I don’t want people to know, I don’t put online at all. I always think it’s funny when people talk about internet privacy, because seriously, there’s no way to have it. Even if every website were policing privacy 24/7, all it takes is a good hacker and your info is out there to anyone who wants it. The only way to guarantee internet privacy is to not use the internet. It makes me laugh in particular when people get angry at Facebook re: privacy, because there’s absolutely nothing on your Facebook profile that you didn’t put there yourself! And I’m all “It’s not Facebook’s fault you were dumb enough to put those drunk, naked pictures of yourself up, and your boss did a Google search and found them!” *sigh*

    Wow. I pretty much wrote a blog post in your comments. Sorry. But I lurk around the site a lot, and comment infrequently, so consider this several days’ worth of comments. :)

  13. Teresa Jusino:

    I think your kvetch about white male nerds complaining about the mainstreaming of geekery is interesting but also not on point here. I have absolutely no problem with geekery being mainstreamed, and the more the merrier. I also thought Patton Oswalt’s whine was a little embarrassing.

    The issue isn’t Facebook making it easier for people to connect, etc, online. The issue is doing it in the most half-assed, obnoxious way possible. Our nation’s grandmothers deserve a better nerd-mainstreaming experience than what Facebook gives them, and there’s no reason Facebook couldn’t have done it, except for what appears to be an ethos of bare sufficiency, rather than elegance.

    “Saying ‘I’M smart enough to not need Facebook, but Facebook is for NORMAL people who AREN’T as smart as me’ is a really elitist thing to say.”

    However, I didn’t say that. Being nerdy isn’t the same thing as being smart. What I am saying is that due to my experience and technological comfort level, I have a different set of expectations for my online experience. It doesn’t make me smarter than anyone else, any more than someone with years of experience evaluating wine is smarter than someone who doesn’t have the same experience and is therefore perfectly happy with a modest, undistinguished bottle of the stuff.

    That said, I don’t really have a problem being labeled an elitist in this regard. I have been doing this years, and I do have expectations for my online experience which Facebook doesn’t meet, and seems unlikely to. For what I want out of the online world, it’s substandard. However, I am an elitist only to in the respect that I expect a high-functioning experience; I’m not elitist in the sense that I think only I deserve that sort of experience. Everyone does. It’s a shame Facebook doesn’t see fit to provide it.

  14. @Austin, Connect is (was? it’s already waning) not an innovation in any sense of the word – e.g. OpenID has been around since LiveJournal (circa 2005). Its adoption has been lukewarm, for a least of reasons, and is slowing down further as we speak.

  15. There’s a huge difference between Facebook and the web. (Though it is a difference that Facebook seems intent on throwing away.) Facebook is an inherently private system. It is a simple way to provide private posting. Sure, you can create your own HTML page, but it isn’t so easy to create a system that allows you to post messages, pictures, etc. to only those you want to have access. I don’t want to have give my mother a password in order to post pictures of my family, meant only for friends and family. HTML is publish to the world. Facebook is publish to your friends. *That* is the critical difference.

    (Of course, Facebook is throwing this away to chase dollars. This is what will kill them in the end.)

  16. There’s also the fact that you cannot sensibly trust Facebook to give a rip about users’ privacy choices.

    And if there is one meme that needs to be retired with extreme prejudice, it’s the oh-so-hip Internet geek sneering about how privacy is dead and everyone needs to “get over it”.

  17. I understand what you’re saying, and I thank you for responding (and am glad that you are pro-geeky mainstream). And it isn’t as if Facebook doesn’t annoy me – what annoys me most is that it seems to change for the sake of changing without making anything better. New profile? There was nothing wrong with the OLD profile! You, and others with computer programming experience aren’t the only ones annoyed with those things. We see them, too! We just can’t formulate ways in our heads to improve them, so we just suck it up. I’m (genuinely) sorry that your knowledge makes it that much harder for you to enjoy it. That’s kind of the problem with “knowledge,” though. The more of it you have, the more you tend to notice how things can suck. And boy, does that suck.

    I wrote what I wrote in my comment, because that’s what your post made me think of, and for whatever reason, I wanted you to know that.

  18. I’m glad you wanted me to know it. It was a good comment, and of course this is why we have the comment threads — to get clarifications and have more discussion. Yay! Communication!

  19. Teresa Jusino @19: And it isn’t as if Facebook doesn’t annoy me – what annoys me most is that it seems to change for the sake of changing without making anything better.

    Yes, this. :-)

    And I can’t imagine the kind of exchange between John and Teresa that we just saw taking place on Facebook or Twitter.

  20. Amen! I just recently jumped through the “Are you sure you want to delete your profile?” and “In fourteen days your profile will be deleted, but only if you don’t log in during that time” hoops, and I’m much happier without it. You know what, though? The number of people who are highly offended that I left the big FB has completely caught me off guard. It’s as if they want me to sign up again so as to validate their participation.

  21. Just FYI, Mr. Scalzi, computer programmers who know something about how hard it is to implement something like Facebook have torn you a new one here:

    http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2118697

    You may also be interested in these links about the “banal mediocrity” that goes into building the most popular website in the internet.

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=76191543919

    http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/358

    http://developers.facebook.com/opensource/

  22. I’m a facebook* refusenik. If everyone who was suspicious of facebook/couldn’t see the point/didn’t like their politics did the same then their stragglehold would quickly be broken. So all those who use it despite their opinions “because all my friends do” are part of the facebook problem, and could help by stopping.

    Note that to keep up to date with friends this will require you to keep regular phone/email contact. I prefer a weekly/monthly personal contact to daily inane facebooking anyway.

    * appparently facebook isn’t in the Firefox dictionary :)

  23. Look at me
    I’m a old man yelling at the wind
    Damn u wind
    I hate wind

    Stop playing with sticks so you don’t beat your own head with it

    Lame.

  24. Delurking to say I liked what you said about being in the right place at the right time. The guy went to Harvard and was surrounded by the sort of people who would actually finance him, compared to the poor CES/CIS student working hir way through state school and couldn’t find someone to buy them a server or rent them a house in Palo Alto.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to engage in reverse elitism about Harvard, but let’s not pretend that it’s the education you’re getting that makes these places as valuable as they are to students. You get a networking advantage, and if you can’t network effectively or accidentally, then you’re probably wasting your money.

  25. Facebook is not an app as much as the Internet is an app. Facebook is the users. And in that perspective facebook is the best.

    If facebook was done in a smarter/better way it would not have succeeded. The perfect app never wins, because it will never be shipped or finished.

  26. #14 Teresa Jusino –
    Word! John’s post made me uncomfortable in much the same way, as do many of the comments. Combined with his tendency towards shaking his cane and yelling “get off my lawn!” (which is usually pretty funny), this particular rant hit me right in the social privilege, about 2 inches below the solar plexis.

    #15 John Scalzi –
    “The issue is doing it in the most half-assed, obnoxious way possible. Our nation’s grandmothers deserve a better nerd-mainstreaming experience than what Facebook gives them”…”What I am saying is that due to my experience and technological comfort level, I have a different set of expectations for my online experience.”
    –cut to emphasize what *you did there,* which was to make slightly more explicit the problem I have with your rant–

    I’m sorry, but this is one of the most blinkered, elitist things I’ve ever witnessed from you, and I’m disappointed. *That right there* is what Teresa is talking about (I believe, & apologies to Teresa if I misunderstood her words.) No, our grandmother’s don’t “deserve better”, better being by your very clear definition something that someone with more experience and expectations, oh, like say, you, would be happier with. You happier is not equal to “better”, it’s just equal to “you happier.” Which, in some cases, excludes people, for example the vast majority of grandmothers. FB made the web accessible to grandma in a way that grandma and all her progeny have demonstrated is eminently *better* for them.

    I get that you don’t like it. Fine. But, apparently unintentionally, you unloaded a heap of value judgments on people who have less access, and therefore less experience and less, shall we say, complex desires, as well as on the tools that help them. FB brought the elderly, people of color, the (squinchy-face at politico-speak, forgive me) economically underprivileged, and women to the web in droves, so much so that those groups now slightly outnumber white males and/or geeks. FB did indeed make the web better–and smarter and faster and more effective–*for them,* which did not *stupid* up the web. It made it accessible. It gave previously blocked out populations a door to enter, and from there they perhaps can travel to more complex places.

    And really, criticizing FB for not having a BCC function, that it “doesn’t belong in the 21st century?” Are you kidding me? What the hell does my grandmother need BCC for? My mom doesn’t even need BCC. Geeks like it, but it adds a level of complexity inappropriate for the platform. BCC would make FB worse, not better; stupider, not smarter. Those neat things that you are sure you could add? Those are roadblocks, impediments; they make some people gatekeepers, and exclude those who don’t know the secret password. That’s not smart, it’s just exclusive.

    Think of FB as a wheelchair ramp to the Internet. It is a damn *fine* ramp. Step back from your privileged place, please, take a deep breath and look again. You may not need a ramp, but that doesn’t mean putting them in makes sidewalks and streets stupid. Quite the contrary, it makes them *smarter*.

    (Okay, my turn to take a deep breath. In pink, out blue.) Thanks for your time and attention. I really enjoy your blog.

  27. “Wile E. Quixote” @12 writes:
    What amuses me is Facebook’s insane valuation. 50 billion dollars? Really? The market capitalization for Boeing is 53 billion dollars. So for 50 billion dollars you could theoretically buy Facebook, which consists of nothing more than a bunch of servers, a huge database of users (who can leave at any time) and some IP, which is probably not too stunning. Or for three billion more you can buy Boeing and get all of their physical plant, all of their IP (which is a heck of a lot more impressive than Facebook’s) and you can build your own bombers, cruise missiles and airliners. Call me old fashioned, but owning your very own military industrial complex sounds a lot cooler than owning a bunch of geeks and server farms.

    Wile E., please do not give the folks at FB such ideas, mmm’kay?

        That scenario, if pursued, sounds downright Strossian   a not-quite-reverse of Halting State. Any idea how long it would take a plurality of core Facebook founders/stockholders to amass that last three billion? Or secure a loan sufficient to leverage such a purchase?

    [ Possibly good news: According to a recent WSJ article, Airbus claims to have sold the largest number of new aircraft during the past year, barely edging ahead of Boeing for 2010 (if I recall correctly). If true, it just might divert a fraction of world-domination-fast investors' attention from the latter … ]

  28. The privacy issues are too much. The web wide tracking and the annoying attitude of Zuckerberg that privacy is dead pushes it over the top, and his cavorting with legions of evil at Goldman Sachs to manipulate markets makes it personal.

    Months ago I added “facebook.com 127.0.0.1″ and variations to my blocking file to stop the tracking. I can’t visit facebook at all now, which is slightly annoying since so many google results link to it, but maybe next I will write something to filter out those results so I won’t even have to look at them, that and wikia.com links, all of which crash my browser.

  29. I totally agree with Scalzi. Is it because I’m 42 and male? Perhaps. Is it because I was computer tech in the 90s? Probably. Is it because I received a VIC-20 for Christmas way back in the 80s? Most definitely. Is it because we used to use TRS-80s (Trash 80s) in computer class back in high school? Of course. Is it because my friends and I used to play Dungeons and Dragon’s under the light of my VIC-20 sometimes? Is it because I first read William Gibson in Omni Magazine. Duh!? Hell, yeah! The younger people have idea what it was like in the pre-Internet world, what it was like moving along in the bitstreams of computational evolution. We have perspective, and you don’t!

  30. @teresa – You’re awesome. With your second reply, you’re even more awesome if i got the message right.

    @Constance – I had a good laugh

    @John Scalzi – Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  31. I use Facebook occasionally because my friends do and I have a separate account I use only for signing in to games, so I don’t annoy my friends with announcements about game progress.

    I hate it. It’s not easy (or possible? I don’t know) to restrict which “friends” see which of my activities, and they’re a pretty diverse bunch of all the people I’ve met up with over the years and who’ve managed to find me. Some people I’d lose touch with without Facebook. Some people I’d like to unfriend – but that would hurt their feelings. I have no idea who sees what on Facebook so I try to stay well out of it.

    I tell people on my profile that I hardly ever login and I offer them an email address instead. No one uses it.

  32. The only value of Facebook for me is that I can (marginally) stay in touch with people from my past. It’s the least common denominator gathering place for people spanning very broad demographics. Ironically, my FB presence started as a way to connect more frequently with my daughter at college.

    Another way to look at it is by analogy. I really enjoy throwing or attending a dinner party with my current circle of friends. It’s an intimate, real time, deep interaction, so it’s meaningful. But I’ve got 100s of old friends and acquaintances who I can only see if I drop by the mall or, even worse, hang around in Walmart and wave hello across the aisles. So I do that once in a while, say hello to a few folks, and then hustle back to real life events a little less contrived and a lot less shallow.

    And staying with the shopping mall analogy, with each FB UI change it feels increasingly like Escher is the architect.

  33. When someone builds a better social network site and successfully promotes it, Facebook will likely fall by the wayside much as MySpace did.

    There’s plenty of room for improvement, and I’ll admit to not being a huge fan of the people or philosophy behind it, but Facebook has something none of its predecessors ever really did. It’s the one place on the Internet where people actually use their real names. That makes it easy to hook up with people you know in real life. That’s not a functionality the web outside of Facebook actually has, or ever had before.

    I could geekily kvetch about its lack of functionality, much as you do here, John.

    Or I could just bless it for being so much smarter and more sophisticated than Twitter.

    Now there’s something that really needs to die.

  34. I think I feel just like John. Somehow I feel less “in control of the web”, how strange that might sound. It also used to be “Look what I found on the internet”, surfing all night long constantly discovering new stuff. Now it’s FB this and FB that. Like it doesn’t exist if it’s not on FB. Also not my cup of tea, I want my web back :-)

  35. Facebook has allowed me to get in touch with people I’d lost contact with over the years and it’s been fun for that. But I don’t look at it as anything more than just a means to share some photos and personal news with ACTUAL friends and family and to track news from a few news sites I like.

    Now that business has latched on to the idea of social networking as a means to build business (I really don’t believe it does) Facebook is going to turn into just another way to bombard people with unwanted advertising and further invade their privacy. Once it turns that corner, people will leave in droves. I don’t think it’s there yet, but it’s only a matter of time. As for Zukerberg – totally agree, John. He is NOT a genius. His initial partner in the venture, Sean Parker, is. But I think both of them are lacking in a few crucial social skills that might make them good people. They are very young. Perhaps they’ll learn.

  36. I don’t play any of the games on facebook. I do use it to find and stay in touch with family and friends. I suppose one can use sometihing like hotmail (which I do) for most of that, but I have to say facebook has made locating friends much easier than it used to be.

  37. Yes, John! Yes! Exactly!

    The thing that really pisses me off about Facebook is that in trying to be AOL 2.0, it tries to create a complete, one-stop-shopping internet experience, but dumbs it all down. I don’t want the internet dumbed down for people, I want people to smarten up for the internet.

  38. Kinda feel like Andrew and Jonathan Stein above. I have a far flung galaxy of friends and family, literally around the world. It makes it easy to keep up with everyone. Its interface is “meh,” but I can live with it. I also have found people that I lost track of decades ago (Yeah, I’m of a ‘certain age.’), for which I am grateful. It’s also extremely useful to rescue groups, enabling them to easily set up transports and look for assistance with rescued dogs.

    Most of the apps/games are worthless timewasters or ways to get into your wallet/personal info, IMHO. I understand that FB is pitched to the lowest common denominator online – but I think the UI could be better thought out/implemented and I’m not even an IT professional.

    Wile E. Quixote: If I had that kind of cash, I’d buy Boeing myself. It may be the only way an old fart like me can get back into the aviation game. I sure as Hell wouldn’t buy an airline – that’s become a fool’s game. :-D

  39. There are things that bother me about Facebook (privacy, for one, and their ability to nuke your account, plus you can’t search your own feed), but frankly it’s pretty good. The interface is easy to use, – as evidenced by its popularity with tons of internet novices – and it’s a good way of storing personal contacts and occasionally checking out what they’re up to.
    It seamlessly caters for people regardless of how deep they want to use it. If you want to pop in occasionally and post the odd update, that’s fine. If you want to use it to share photos, that’s fine. If you want to spend hours playing mafia wars and exchanging fake presents with your friends, that’s fine too.
    Maybe it doesn’t look like anything special. Maybe it looks like anybody could do it. I guess they make it look easy, but making things look easy is what happens when you’re really good.

    A mail system that doesn’t have a Bcc function doesn’t belong in the 21st Century.

    Sorry, but BCC is the triple-bladed razor-sharp kitchen-knife of the online world. In the hands of an experienced user it can be useful, but for most people, it’s just plain dangerous. “Forward” serves the same purpose and is less likely to cut your hand to ribbons.

  40. What drives me crazy about Facebook is the illusion of privacy it gives people. Twitter is like shouting your diary through a megaphone – if there are certain people that you don’t want to know whatever nugget of information you feel like expressing, you simply don’t say it. But with Facebook you think that you have hidden your diary in a Super Secret Hidey Place that only you and and your BFFs know about, and next thing you know pages from your diary have been photocopied and left all over the school and the principal has called your parents and OMG you are in so much trouble.

    I think that simile got away from me at some point.

  41. I ran across this the other day and found it rather depressing, actually:

    According to a Nielsen study, and as noted by Ben Parr in an article titled “Facebook Is the Web’s Ultimate Timesink,” “The average U.S. Internet user spends more time on Facebook than on Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Microsoft, Wikipedia and Amazon combined.”

  42. My hunch? Men are only interested in facebook if they want to meet women. Once they have a woman, they are no longer interested in facebook.

    Hopefully this won’t start a #$^!storm, but in my experience most men I know really don’t spend that much time on Facebook after the initial “ooh, something new” exploration phase. But our wives and girlfriends hit that thing up half a dozen times a day. Before I piss people off, I am quite sure that my particular demographic highly influences this – white, middle-aged suburban family with youngish kids. I’m not making statements outside that general group. But seriously the wives around here (including mine) are all facebook NUTS, using it more often than email to communicate with each other. The mean all have a presence on facebook, but seem to treat it more as having themselves listed in a phonebook – it is a way for people to get ahold of them – but are otherwise passive toward facebook and don’t typically log in.

  43. “Basically there’s very little Facebook does, either as a technological platform or as a company, that doesn’t remind me that “banal mediocrity” is apparently the highest accolade one can aspire to at that particular organization.”

    You aren’t quite giving Facebook enough credit. One thing Facebook has managed to do is to scale their site up remarkably well. Part of what killed Friendster is when they got popular, the site became unusable. Facebook has managed to go from 0 to 600 million users (twice the population of the US!) in 7 years with almost no growth hiccups. One funny aspect of scalability is that if you do it right, nobody notices. Sure, Facebook is kind of Web Lite, and their transition from a gated community to trying to push you to expose everything to everyone is a bit odd, but the technological feats underlying their success are pretty impressive.

  44. @ Matthew

    Your experience =/= everyone’s experience. Most of the men I know on Facebook are happily married, talking everything from politics to sports to poetry. (And ordinarily I wouldn’t bother pointing this sort of thing out, except that that brush your painting with can make it appear that married men on Facebook are maybe not-so-happy and trawling for partners, and that’s unfair.)

  45. Constance:

    “No, our grandmother’s don’t ‘deserve better’,”

    Actually, yes, they absolutely do. “Accessibility” isn’t nearly the same thing as “mediocrity,” nor is “simplicity” the same thing as “sufficiency.” I’m not annoyed with Facebook because everybody uses it. I’m annoyed with it because it’s badly designed. It’s true that its bad design wouldn’t bother me if everyone didn’t use it, because then I wouldn’t have reason to deal with it. But they do, so I do, and I feel perfectly fine about complaining about the ways in which it sucks. Obviously, this is all my opinion; that’s axiomatic. But I have an informed opinion.

    “Think of FB as a wheelchair ramp to the Internet. It is a damn *fine* ramp.”

    No, it’s really not. If this is the metaphor we’re going to use, than it’s an *adequate* ramp, and could be a much better ramp. But as ramps go, it’s no better than the AOL or MySpace ramp. It merely has the advantage of being a ramp that everyone is currently using.

    “Popular” doesn’t equal “good” or in this case “virtuous,” and pointing out that Facebook’s interface is a stumbling mediocrity laced with egregious data mining doesn’t make one a bad person.

    Rrr:

    Just because I’m shaking my cane doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get off my lawn.

  46. My wife tells me that when she is on Facebook for a while, she feels the same way she does after watching too much TV.

    Delete your account. You’ll feel better. People who matter will find you.

  47. Honestly, I am very conflicted about Facebook. On the one hand, I have many complaints of the geeky variety, same as John: I find Facebook messaging to be crippled, I think Facebook chat is buggy and annoying, the proliferation of self-publishing apps gets on my nerves and I think Facebook displays an utter disregard for the very idea of privacy. OK, privacy on the Internet is so very not guaranteed, but Facebook has largely taken backward steps throughout its history.

    On the other hand… all of my friends from college are on Facebook, and my Aunt Jackie, and my parents. Facebook provides a way to keep in touch with them passively, which I find both disturbing (because shouldn’t I be emailing my Aunt Jackie anyway?) and very convenient. And to be honest, without Facebook, Aunt Jackie might not be using Facebook anyway. It is far too useful to ignore. And networking effects are powerful, so I have an account there, not checked very often.

    On the third hand: I would find Facebook much less offensive if it stopped trying to worm its way into our lives. This is both technological and social: technologically, Facebook connect and the proliferation of “Like” buttons around the Internet are nothing more than a way to let Facebook’s engineers know even more about our habits, and target ads even better. Socially, I’ve discovered that being inactive on Facebook is now somehow making me a bad person in the eyes of my friends. You never post on Facebook, how am I supposed to know what’s going on in your life? What? I called you last week, we talked for an hour! So what? It’s like you’re antisocial! Sadly, a real conversation. I have a phone, I have an email address, ignoring Facebook for two weeks does not make me antisocial.

    Like I said. Conflicted.

  48. Mark:

    Well, the people who matter find me on Facebook, and then I tell them how they can find me elsewhere. It’s worth it to keep an account. I’ll just kvetch about the place while I do so.

    Hackernews:

    “computer programmers who know something about how hard it is to implement something like Facebook have torn you a new one here:”

    Actually, it looks like they’re having a fairly substantive discussion of the points here. But since you’re apparently promoting your own site there, I understand why you want to make it appear exciting.

  49. Facebook is neat:
    – Low barrier to entry for less-experienced users
    – Massive reach which allows you to find people you’ve lost over the years
    – Relatively simple-to-use interface for communicating

    Facebook is teh suck:
    – Entire experience is proprietary and could vanish overnight
    – Privacy is an illusion at best, and a danger at worst

    I sympathize with Teresa Jusino. Facebook is best experienced as low-grade communication with a network of good friends. Casual, short conversations about the weather, free ice cream, a mean cashier at the mall, sharing pictures from a vacation, etc. Facebook is a lousy replacement for face-to-face interaction, and it’s a lousy replacement for the Internet in general, of course… the conversation taking place on this blog would probably never happen on Facebook itself (especially with long comments).

    The thing that strikes me the most about Facebook (and Twitter) is this: everyone is talking at once, but very few people are actually listening.

  50. And to be honest, without Facebook, Aunt Jackie might not be using Facebook anyway.

    Should read, “And to be honest, without Facebook, Aunt Jackie might not be using the Internet anyway.” Excuse me.

  51. #10 by Ron Hogan:

    I have already said I am NOT ATTENDING this event, and yet Facebook continues to keep it in my calendar. Granted, with a “Not Attending” tag, but, honestly, who looks at their calendar to keep track of the events they aren’t attending?

    Actually, there are some days when I could see taking a certain amount of pleasure from that. In fact, I think I’ll start an anti-social network. Anyone want to join me? Oh, wait …

  52. We created a Facebook account (for our cat actually) so that we could keep in touch with a few friends/family who use it. I completely agree with John. Facebook isn’t very well done. It’s often slow. The underlying tech isn’t that impressive.

  53. Okay, share time. Facebook pisses me off because:

    a) my aunt’s family takes lots of photos, family pics, grandchildren, holiday dinners, etc. They make the rest of us look like hermits. And why do they always look so damn happy in all their pics, brothers and sisters hugging and kissing each other all the time. My mother isn’t photogenic anymore, hates having her photo taken. Her younger sister on the other hand is always snapping picture of herself and everyone around her, her three grandchildren in particular. My mother only has one grandchild. I can sense resentment sometimes. Also, my niece is a gorgeous university student, and my mother uses her picture as her own profile pic.

    “My family is happier than yours!” “Well, my children are better looking! Look how photogenic they are!”

    I help my mother by having the most comprehensive photo albums on world traveling. I have albums entitled SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN, THAILAND, VIETNAM, LAOS, NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA, and ITALY. She’s always tagging them, drives me crazy sometimes. I spent years traveling the world snapping photos so my mother can lob them back at her younger sister in a sixty-five year old daddy-loved-me-more war.

    b) I want to delete my account, but can’t. I would embarrass my mother if I did.

    c) I want to unfriend at least 10 people. I never liked them in the real world, and certainly don’t like sharing my experiences abroad with them

    d) I’m actually shy

  54. John, thank you for confirming my feeling that Facebook is something I never want to go near.

    I have friends who constantly ask me why I won’t join, and do not seem to think that “Because Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated that they give less of a shit about their users than a mink farmer gives about his minks,” is an adequate reason to avoid the bandwagon. Perhaps now I’ll just point them here.

  55. Someone who is not in IT and not into building web sites once told me he didn’t see anything earth-shattering about Facebook. “What? It’s a web page with a big database in the back and lots and lots of AJAX.”

    OK, so he’s a little tech savvy. The guy breaks out into a cold sweat if his iPhone doesn’t get a 3G signal. (There is no 4G in America. The phone companies are lying to you. Go look it up.)

    But he’s right. It’s basically the return of Fidonet, all sexied up and graphics friendly, and not through any innovation Zuckerberg came up with. It just has better coding standards to yank off the shelf than AOL (too proprietary) or MySpace (It’s called CSS, you morons! Use it! Love it!).

    But…

    Facebook did finally let me get the last laugh on a parasitic roommate who drained the finances of me and my ex during her stay with us. Did you know that, while you can’t delete your account easily, you CAN block a person from seeing you on Facebook completely? You just enter their name and *poof!* So, while our former house leach wanted to hear from us (Not even sure she knows about the divorce), I was able to respond with thundering silence.

    You have no idea how cathartic that was. (Let’s see. Volumes of self-pity laced with judgmental pronouncements of how I’ve screwed up my life despite having held the same job for over a decade or push the button and move on. *Click*)

    (No, I’m not bitter.)

  56. Facebook is to the web as Apple is to the computer. Take something complex and confusing and dumbing it down for the common man until “it just works”.

  57. I made the same complaints about Microsoft products years ago. It irked me that Bill Gates got rich selling what I considered crap to heathens who didn’t know better.

    It’s an awful burden, knowing better.

  58. Concerning BCC: Those of you who are complaining about the lack of this feature have apparently don’t have friends who mass-mail their holiday cards through facebook. After the first few days of “Thanks, [friend who sent the card]!” emails, boy does that get old. If there was a BCC, people would not have the option of replying to everyone when they only want to reply to the sender. In Facebook, replying to everyone is the very annoying default.

    Concerning grandmas: I’d really appreciate it, personally, if “your grandma” stopped being slang for “that technologically illiterate person you know.” I’m willing to cede that technological illiteracy is probably higher amongst people of retirement age than it is among twenty-somethings, for a variety of reasons. But there are plenty of older techies in the world (personally, my family got our first computer from my grandma. She was upgrading).

    Also, I’ve never in my life heard someone say that a website was “so simple your grandfather could use it.” It’s always grandmas, because of course, women can’t use computers, and old people can’t use computers, so old women must really suck at computers. I call bullcookies.

  59. YoYo:

    I think Apple does a better job with its UI and aesthetic, however. Which is why the hipsters love it as well as everyone else. I have my philosophical objections to Apple as well, but their design is such that I yearn for their products anyway. They’re evil. Pretty, pretty evil. Facebook doesn’t ring that same bell in my head.

    Dave H:

    I remember when MSN first came out; I was working at AOL at the time and we were all terrified the service would eat our lunch. Then we saw how MSN was implemented and relaxed. AOL had its faults, but MSN was all fault. I know you were talking about Microsoft in a general sense, mind you.

    Annalee:

    “I’d really appreciate it, personally, if ‘your grandma’ stopped being slang for ‘that technologically illiterate person you know.'”

    While acknowledging your point that there are certainly older technologically savvy people out there (and having made an edit to this very comment because of your request), I think you have an uphill climb with this request.

  60. I find Facebook the best aggregate site on the web for me, suitable for quick updates, sharing ‘what’s happening’ stuff or links. It has killed my use of LiveJournal, which itself was easier than using my own blog and manually updating the HTML and managing the site. CHMOD is a command no one should need to know.

    That said, John is right that the Facebook interface is the dog’s breakfast. It really is. We’ve all grown moderately used to it and I derive great value to distant friends and non-techie relatives all using it…but let’s be honest, It’s a sloppy mess. Part of this is by design: it’s intended to be difficult to access some parts of the interface to discourage certain activities. But it’s also counter-productive. It’s arbitrary in it’s weird approach (I mean, I still don’t quite grok the idea of the ‘wall’, compared to just a standard space, and what exactly a poke is meant to do). I’d argue that a great majority of FB users don’t actually use more than a quarter of the interface…and many because they are totally unaware of what the interface portions actually DO.

    Oh, and I’d never read that Patton Oswalt piece before. Speaking as a geek of the 80s myself, I think he’s completely and totally wrong. Living in the Future is AWESOME. The Geeks Won, Patton, and that’s a Good Thing ™. Don’t be THAT guy.

  61. “But as ramps go, it’s no better than the AOL or MySpace ramp.”

    With this, I have to disagree. MySpace was awful. To say Facebook is no better than MySpace is insulting to Facebook.

  62. LizC:

    It was certainly uglier than Facebook, that’s for sure. That said, and rather sadly as part of a last-ditch effort to be relevant, they’ve recently cleaned up their UI and interface a bit, and now — if one discounts the ads they jam into one’s profile — I think it looks rather better and is easier to use. I don’t think it’s going to save MySpace, though.

  63. Dido, John, on your rant about Facebook. A demographic I’ve noticed in my family is that most of the females in my clan (sister, nieces, and cousins) love Facebook. I’m often asked why I’m not on Facebook. I tell them to call me or send me an e-mail and I’ll reply.

  64. #67 by John Scalzi:

    I have my philosophical objections to Apple as well, but their design is such that I yearn for their products anyway. They’re evil. Pretty, pretty evil. Facebook doesn’t ring that same bell in my head.

    Oh my, yes. I built my own PC, back in the day. I played around with Linux. But since OSX came out, my home computers have been iMacs. Plus, an iPod Touch lives in my pocket and I’ve saved up for the next version of the iPad. Pretty, pretty, indeed.

    Annalee:

    “I’d really appreciate it, personally, if ‘your grandma’ stopped being slang for ‘that technologically illiterate person you know.’”

    While acknowledging your point that there are certainly older technologically savvy people out there (and having made an edit to this very comment because of your request), I think you have an uphill climb with this request.

    Well, sure. But sometimes uphill climbs are worth it.

  65. I’m still a hold out. I don’t like what Facebook represents, it pretends to be a community, but its model is ultimately about making money, so it cares nothing about user privacy.

    Livejournal has similar issues, but at least the format is geared for substantial conversation and the users police privacy concerns, which the admin still seems to consider important.

    Finally, there are lots of people this cane shaking old man would prefer stay lost to me.

  66. Scalzi @67, I’ll cede that it’s an uphill climb, but I’d sure love to see the view from the top. Sexism and ageism are gross.

    Which is not to say that I think that you (or other who’ve used “your grandma” here) are actually living under the delusion that women and older people can’t understand computers unless they get them in dumbed-down, facebook-shaped chunks. But that insult is implicit in the use of “your grandma” in this context.

  67. I joined facebook to keep in touch with my kids, who were already there and were using it to keep in touch, and to share pictures of grandkids, that sort of thing. Since then, it has enabled me to find and keep in touch with people I haven’t seen for years, sometimes decades. That’s nice.

    That said, it has some massive flaws. One is allowing these “games” to mine your profile and friends list. But that’s easy — I don’t play the games. And I block the mindless attempts by those games to suck me in. “X just got a heart from Y” etc. I don’t worry about the privacy concerns that drive some people bonkers, because I haven’t given facebook information like my home address and phone number, and I never will. If they don’t have it, they can’t “share” it.

    It’s convenient, but not the coming of utopia some people seem to think it is.

  68. Facebook is pretty marvelous from a backend infrastructure perspective, remember AOL at it’s height had 30 million subscribers. The UI is mediocre, they are certainly no Apple from a UI perspective. The communication paradigm am still on the fence about. The publish and subscribe metaphor is certainly different and in some ways an improvement over email.

    Agree that Zuckerburger was mostly a second mover/imitator though and doesn’t really deserve a lot of personal credit

  69. A lot of people are touting the whole “get in touch with old friends I fell out of touch with twenty years ago” aspect.

    Is there something wrong with me that I don’t really consider that appealing? I mean, sure there are people I liked and wouldn’t mind finding again (in fact, I had Christmas dinner with an old friend who tracked me down through my sister’s FB account), but for the most part I have enough people to deal with. I don’t want to have tangential contact with hordes more.

    The number of “So-and-so is offended that I haven’t friended them back” stories I read is further warning. What the hell is wrong with people that they have to believe absolutely everyone thinks they’re awesome?

  70. I’d like Facebook more if the site ever gave me the impression that it was trying not to be evil. Google doesn’t always succeed, but at least they try.

  71. I got into Facebook after attending a conference where most of the participants were using it for teaching. I plunged into Facebook deeply at first, but now I only check Facebook once a week or so.

    I think that the best way to keep up with people is through blogging. A blog and an RSS reader can filter through the information that people share much more efficiently. It also isn’t that much harder to make a blog post than it is to post something on Facebook. RSS feeds are easy to access. You can also blog for free.

  72. I agree with John. There’s a distinction between ease of use and stupidity. Many Facebook users are confused by who sees what and when. Apple software has similar issues at times, simplifying concepts beyond essential complexity into nonsense. Given that Facebook is about selective broadcasting to your personal network, confusion about how this works a big problem.

    But I don’t have so much of a problem with Facebook’s mediocrity as I do with the potential loss of the Internet as a toolkit based on open standards. I’d rather my kids take ownership of their on-line presence that merely consume it.

  73. I always thought that Facebook was blogging for people who couldn’t be arsed to do a REAL blog. I’ve never been a programmer or a web designer, so it’s not that I’m part of the technological elite. But I think John’s points here are spot on.

    I’ve found some friends from college & high school there. They’re folks I probably wouldn’t have much contact with otherwise, and the Facebook updates they make are Just. Enough.Contact for me. That’s what Facebook’s been good for for me.

    What really bothers me though are the businesses that seem to think that Facebook is the way to promote themselves.,I’m not even sure why it bothers me, but it negatively affects my perception of that company. Maybe it just seems like a lazy way to do business. I’m not going to Like a page for a coupon because I don’t know what kind of database that’s going to put me in.

  74. I think what the ’00s have demonstrated is that most people don’t want to spend thinking time on the internet.
    First there were blogs, then MySpace, then Facebook. Each of those represents another wave of’ ‘less-custom’, and then popularity declined. Prediction: The next wave will be more excellent than Facebook, but will allow you to do even less. It will probably complete the tie-in to physical identity.

    Consider the meme about how many people don’t type in a website address on the URL bar, they type it in on Google. The world wide web is dead and alien to those people. The basic mechanics are *magic* when you’re at the point of typing in URLs in search engines.

    So facebook is both a product of and an engine of the alienation of how the web works.

    Yeah, I hand-roll my html. Still. And borrow CSS and hand-modify it. And use jQuery and write my own Javascript. In emacs.

  75. Chris S.:

    “It also isn’t that much harder to make a blog post than it is to post something on Facebook.”

    This is actually where I will stick up for Facebook and other social networks of its kind — it is easier, and also to the point it’s easier to use a dedicated social services “friend finding” functions than it is to set up RSS feeds and such and so on.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like blogs — I mean, obviously — but I also think most people don’t really want a blog. To do them well and to make them interesting is work, and I suspect most people just want to keep in touch with friends. That’s where a social network makes sense. The idea of a social network is a good one, which is why it keeps coming ’round. I think implementation is perennially the issue.

  76. I enjoy Facebook. Could it be better designed? Yeah, I guess. I admit I don’t have the experience of the Claque of Way Cool Early 90’s Programmers to make me feel superior to the whole thing, and the site’s done some things I don’t like, but not nearly so egregious and disrespectful to the user as, say, Netflix has done. As for the whole “It’s for stupid people too lazy to do a real blog/website,” well, I had a website back in 1995, and launched my current one 10 years ago, before everyone who wanted to do what I do just signed on to Blogger or WordPress instead.

    Faecbook serves a particular function in my online experience, and does it conveniently and well enough for me not to mind its quirks. I’ve met some pretty awesome folks I’d never have known existed otherwise thanks to it, and for that alone, Facebook gets a thumbs-up from me.

  77. DA @44: What are you talking about? It sounds as though you are confusing BCC: with “reply to all”. The latter is certainly filled with danger for the inexperienced (and, for that matter, the experienced).

    As has already been pointed out, BCC: (‘blind carbon copy’) allows one to send an email to a large number of people without a) clogging everybody’s inbox with a huge list of email addresses and b) revealing the email address of each recipient to every other recipient. Oh, and c) allowing anyone who got the email to hit “Reply to All” and spam the entire rest of the list.

  78. While I agree with Scalzi’s comments, I can appreciate the nature of Facebook defenders particularly regarding the accessibility and ease of use of FB for the masses. My concern is with the level of expectation. Clearly millions of people are willing to settle for what many have refered to here as mediocrity in one form or another. I don’t believe it is elitist to aspire to something higher than the lowest common denominator.

  79. I think people, in a rush to join the “Get of my Lawn” brigade have missed part of the biggest function of Facebook: it allows you to stay in contact with people you might not want to email or call regularly, but who are still important acquaintances. From a personal business standpoint, that’s invaluable. As a performer, I get jobs that way, I get audiences for my events that way, I network with other singers (see: getting jobs, getting to know people), and it provides a decent way to include people who have an interest in your career a (controlled) glimpse into your life. They feel they know YOU, and it gives them the frisson of glee of being a friend of a performer, and they’re far more likely to be engaged in your events.

    And you know, at the same time, it lets my mom know what’s going so she can brag to her friends, without me necessarily having to go through the “fraught with danger and highly uncomfortable” telephone conversations and email exchanges we inevitably have.

    In short, it’s a great networking tool, AND it allows me to have far more contact with my incredibly dysfunctional family than I would ever otherwise had, because there is a filter through which our communications pass through.

    Finally, in re: privacy. I have to laugh when people complain about their stuff on the internet not being secure. Listen, and repeat after me: “the internet is forever.” It’s a good matter of policy to post things with the thought in mind that it will most likely be made public at some point, and thanks to caching, it will be available for the next millennium. Life is risk, online or not. You can’t necessarily depend on others to filter all those risks for you, even on reputable sites because there will always be hackers and stupid mistakes, just like there’s identity thieves in real life, and just like how Bank of America and HSBC have had multiple instances of “losing personal data” to people with nefarious schemes in mind.

  80. Thank you, John.

    I’m on Facebook for much the same reason you are, but people who want to reach me know there are other and better ways to get my attention.

  81. Anonymous Soprano @89: I admit I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, so could you elaborate on how ‘life is risk’ and ‘the Internet is forever’ and ‘there are identify thieves’ leads to “don’t get your knickers in a wad if Facebook lies to you, changes your privacy settings without telling you, or fails to set up rudimentary security for third-party apps”? Because it’s like one of those puzzles where you’re supposed to change STOP to RUBY one letter at a time; I’m just not following the logical progression there.

    You’re really going right back to John’s point about why Facebook is half-assed. Grandma doesn’t want to have to develop a super-duper high-security password; Grandma doesn’t want to have to check her privacy settings every time Facebook does an update because the default is “opt-in”; Grandma doesn’t want to find out the hard way that the cute little game she plays on Facebook has been harvesting her personal data without her permission. And it’s more than a little unfair to wag a finger at users about the Risks of the Internet, while placing no responsibility whatsoever on Internet companies for responding to, or even being aware of, the Risks of the Internet.

    As for the greatness of Facebook, what Trixie said @88.

  82. Yes. Yes. And yes.

    Facebook as far as I can see from first hand experience [receiving yet MORE *adorable kitten snaps* and so forth is the enclave of professionals and kiddies alike – with just a BIT TOO MUCH time on their hands!!

    Me. I am a fervent Twitter user that manages to get my daily lists done, use RSS feeds sending content for posting to me – for my 10+ posts a day that I can track – and has get real benefits to my site and business from these daily Tweets.

    Sorry but for me Facebook is just another way of spelling Farmville.

    Zuckerberg is a genius don’t get me wrong. But I cant understand how folk can commit the time to facebook for such a nominal return. IMO. #twitterrules

  83. NOw I want to cry. I’ve got about 570 FB “friends,” a combination of current friends, old friends I’ve resumed contract with, professional friends and acquaintances, colleagues and professions conacts, and readers. All in one place. So convenient!

    And now… now, John, you’re making me fear that I’ve got 570 Betmax cassettes. Or 570 8-track tapes. Or 570 LPs. Or 570 files written in Easywriter II on a DOS computer.

    I CANNOT COPE WITH CONVERSIONS =AGAIN=! If everyone migrates away from Facebook to a new! and better! system… I will pull the covers over my head, curl up in a tech-wearied fetal position, and stay there. Forever.

  84. I completely agree with and applaud this rant. I’ve also coded html in notepad and uploaded via unix. Never worked for AOL, though I was a member of the original compuserve via C64!

    I think that type of history is exactly why some of us don’t like facebook. You put it exactly right in that it seems to be a dumber way of doing things I could already do – only not as well and being a member now puts me under the thumb of some monstrous company who clearly just wants to market things to me. Not worth it.

  85. The vast majority of people with Facebook accounts, grandmas and otherwise, are not Facebook’s customers. Advertisers are Facebook’s customers. Facebook app developers are Facebook’s customers. Everyone else on Facebook is a product whose personal information can be milked for those customers’ benefit.

    A Web social-networking platform that existed for the benefit of the masses, without offering anything for third parties to skim off, would not be very hard to code, but it would have to charge money to all of its subscribers. Most people just don’t want to pay money, even a token amount, to belong to a social-networking site. And if the vast majority of your friends and relatives don’t want to buy a membership in your social-networking site, it’s not very social, is it?

  86. John@67:”I have my philosophical objections to Apple as well, but their design is such that I yearn for their products anyway.”

    Dagnabbit, John, get out of my head. I won’t say that I yearn for Apple products, but I do recognize the things they do very well (i.e. create a smooth user experience, make computing accesssible to people who don’t want to learn about computers) while maintaining my own philosophical objections.

    You were right, I was talking about Microsoft’s shippable products (as opposed to services like MSN), but that’s a function of my own bias. I grew up believing if you want to make money, you build something and sell it. I still have a hard time understanding how people like Mark Z. get rich without producing anything. It just feels like a scam. Of course I have a hard time understanding how anybody thought they could make money from mortgage derivatives, too. I guess I’ll never understand the new economy.

  87. It’s good to see I’m not the only one who went, “Wait, I already have other applications that do this better.”

  88. Re: A mail system that doesn’t have a Bcc function doesn’t belong in the 21st Century.

    I stopped reading after this. You do realize that “Bcc” kind of goes against the entire mantra of Social Networking? The problem with all of the “Facebook is Dumb” posts lately is that they cannot grasp the fact that you don’t use Facebook like you used the other tools. And if you try, you will be disappointed.

  89. One of the things being talked about is “facebook divorce”, wherein A meets B, old op-gen-friend from high school, college, grad school, they chat, discover their lives are not perfect, and each dumps their current partner to run off with the FBF. From what I’ve heard, this rarely works out well for either A or B (although sometimes well for the exes.)

    People are always going to want other ways of communicating; this is one. It’s just sad that it comes with such a load of useless whatever.

  90. Wow. Now I feel shallow for not liking it because its boring. I feel like its going to a party with a bunch of people I know but wouldn’t necessarily choose to hang out with. They are all conversing with me about their child’s soccer game or a farm game I’m not even playing. There’s a reason I don’t go out with people who think discussing their child’s school curriculum is scintillating conversation. Why would I enjoy it being forced into my face every time I log on?

  91. I like Facebook, but it’s clearly not the right place for long-form exposition or conversation. It’s a place for brief flitting comments from people I am only vaguely in touch with; it provides a constant buzz of what’s-going-on-in-my-distant-friends’-lives that allows me to feel like we’re connected more than we actually are (and allows them the same). It’s a much better tool for that than myspace, livejournal, etc were … but that’s *entirely* due to network effect, rather than any intrinsic quality of the site.

    I take your point about preferring the ideal form of a facebook-like-thing over facebook itself, but … achieving a network effect is *hard*, and depends on luck as much as skill, and so I don’t the choices are facebook vs. ideal-facebook-replacement, I think they’re facebook vs. nothing-in-that-space … and i’ll take facebook over nothing-in-that-space any day.

  92. Russ:

    “You do realize that “Bcc” kind of goes against the entire mantra of Social Networking?”

    No, but I do realize that when people leave out really elemental features in their Web site’s mail system, they have rationalizations for it that other people are apparently willing to accept so long as the magic words “Social Networking” are invoked.

  93. THANK YOU!

    I log on to Facebook approximately once every two years, and it annoys me that everyone is EXPECTED to be on Facebook.

    I have a Live Journal account and use it far more than I use Facebook. My husband said, “Facebook is for making contact with people without having to actually talk to them; Live Journal is about sharing your thoughts with people and hearing what they’re thinking and feeling. Of COURSE you like Live Journal better.”

    Glad to meet another Facebook hater.

  94. I didn’t have a computer until I was married and in my twenties. I’d never been on a computer until I went to college (1995). I almost never went to the computer lab during my college life; I used a typewriter, which never ate my work.

    While I’ve come to accept and even appreciate computers in my life, I still rather prefer to believe that fairies or angels or some deep magic is how masses of information move through space.

    And then there’s Facebook. I refused for a long time, finally succumbing to the utter inanity of the site while my nephew was ill and I was part of the structure keeping everyone in the loop. Within weeks after his death, I deactivated my account. Far from social, I found the site quite antisocial with maniacal tendencies. Privacy is only a single frame of a larger, more grotesque image. When all information is viewed as important, vital, necessary to share, our discernment is eroded. To be sure, it can be a slow process. But it is one that strips the useful, sound nuggets from our cyberscape – not to mention our landscape. Is every update equal? No. It’s tempting to say yes, but no. When you are facing an intense personal crisis, you tend not to care what Sally made for dinner for her thirteen cats. Does that mean it was wrong of Sally to post the feline feast? Also no. The problem lies in discernment, in how we compartmentalize different sections of our lives.

    Without filters, without some meaningful way for folks to obtain the experience they seek, you are left with the electronic equivalent of reams and reams of babble. Any little rant becomes a vat of hot gossip as “friends” seek reassurances that they were not the offenders, as “friends” exacerbate the problem, as a whole cycle of negativity streams live. Trinkets of truth fall on sightless eyes, and people stop asking what they can do and start asking for imaginary lamp oil.

    What a longwinded way to say, thank you for the post. People will likely be debating the societal effects of Facebook long after we are all dust.

  95. (As of the time of this writing there are only 97 comments. I don’t dare refresh; there were only about 20 when I first clicked on the post.)

    Mythago @ #91: You are too the sharpest tool in the shed, or at least one of them. Your comments are possibly the single biggest draw for me to this blog after Scalzi’s, and I was delighted to see them here after enjoying them at I Blame the Patriarchy too. This has been a message from your totally non-scary, non-threatening, non-serious, and now non-secret admirer. :) (Who is also a Bay Area resident, probably part of why I enjoy your comments so much.)

    Now, to the more serious side of the above, and the topic in general… A year and a half ago I commented to a friend that I had to take back maybe half of whatever negative things I’d thought/said about Facebook, because it facilitated my reconnect with one of my best friends from when we were about 6-15 years old, after two decades. We’d both been looking for each other on and off over the years, but didn’t manage it until my teenaged second cousin, who I met for the first time in summer 2009, got me to join Facebook to keep in touch. Being an absolutely terrible person at actually keeping in touch, I haven’t actually responded to said friend of 20 years past since we did reconnect, or otherwise used Facebook in the year and a half since then barring one interaction a few months ago for work purposes.

    And then yesterday my abusive high school ex sent me a message and I spent the rest of the day alternating between rage, nausea, and other unpleasant states.

    Let me be clear. I am not blaming Fb for his ability to find me. He could have done so via Google easily enough in the last decade, or by more conventional means such as my parents (who don’t know the extent of his abuse of me and thought I was being unreasonable in not wanting to talk to him after we broke up). But my extremely inactive presence on Fb gave him the idea that I might be open to communication from him — the last time he tried contacting me was in about 1993 via Prodigy then and I told him at the time that if he ever tried to communicate with me again that I would contact the police. I have a feeling I have no legal grounds for any action, nor would I actually want to get embroiled in such, but you’d think that would be a fairly strong hint to leave me the hell alone. But for some reason he decided that a mere 18 years might have changed my mind. (It hasn’t.)

    Someone up above said that an innovation of Fb’s was the use and popularization of real names, allowing people to connect with others from their past. This is no longer a feature in my mind. I had been going to say that this ex didn’t try to contact me via, say, LiveJournal, which I used between 2005 and 2007, but this probably is less a feature of Facebook’s encouraging of such contacts and more that it uses real names. Though those are basically the same thing, I guess.

    Again, I emphasize that the fault is not with the application itself, nor with the Internet, etc. It’s with the !@$^# that contacted me. But the timing of that contact right before this post has impelled me to comment when I wouldn’t otherwise. Incidentally, my parents and most of my dad’s side of the family had Fb accounts long before I did, though Dad got his largely to look at photos a coworker wanted him to see, or something like that.

  96. “I’m not annoyed with Facebook because everybody uses it. I’m annoyed with it because it’s badly designed.”

    Yes. It’s the privacy thing that bothers me most, though.

  97. Months ago I added “facebook.com 127.0.0.1″ and variations to my blocking file to stop the tracking.

    I add it every day. I have to add it every day, because Microsoft Security Essentials assumes that anything redefining facebook.com in the hosts file has to be malicious software, so every night it removes that line (and only that line, not any of the other redefinitions to the loopback interface) from my hosts file.

  98. You’re really going right back to John’s point about why Facebook is half-assed. Grandma doesn’t want to have to develop a super-duper high-security password; Grandma doesn’t want to have to check her privacy settings every time Facebook does an update because the default is “opt-in”; Grandma doesn’t want to find out the hard way that the cute little game she plays on Facebook has been harvesting her personal data without her permission. And it’s more than a little unfair to wag a finger at users about the Risks of the Internet, while placing no responsibility whatsoever on Internet companies for responding to, or even being aware of, the Risks of the Internet.

    It has nothing to do with placing no responsibility on companies, and everything to do with the fact that at really no point in history has any large corporation ever had ANYONE’s best interests in mind, other than their own. You can point fingers, preach sermons, etc., but only two things ever work in dealing with it: a) they ^&*% up in such a monumental, public way that the company goes belly-up (see: the company involved in the manufacture of the infamous Challenger o-rings), and b) taking measures to protect yourself. The companies aren’t going to do it, the government isn’t going to do it.

    And this is not a new paradigm, in a way. It’s simply that technology has made it easier for the powerful to exploit the individual. No, “grandma” or “grandpa” or whoever may not want to learn the hard way, but guess what? Without consumers educating themselves, without people like you going to your “grandma” and explaining how it works, they’re GOING to learn the hard way.

    And no, facebook, nor yet any company like it, is going to change its ways. Why should it? There’s no motivation to do so, really. You’re not going to convince its 600 million users to just go away unless there’s a newer, better product that all THEIR friends are using. There is no impetus for them to change BECAUSE THEY ARE MAKING MONEY THE WAY THEY ARE.

    Nothing in life is free – you are paying in some way or another, even if it’s only with page views. Ergo, you have got to fight that battle on your terms (protecting your own data, understanding the risks). The companies definitely aren’t going to be fighting that battle for you.

    Within those parameters, take what you can get from sites like facebook. But don’t ever kid yourself that they are in any way, shape or form ever going to be looking out for your interests above theirs.

    THAT is the point I was making.

  99. For me there are four problems with Facebook.

    (1) No matter what I choose as settings, FB is going to select which postings I am going to see. Sometimes my own postings don’t show up, unless I go back to my wall. I want to be able to skim all the relevant postings. There are plenty of postings I do get which are not informative. This is unfortunate because I want to use FB as a useful communication service, not just join in some social party.

    (2) Their UI is inconsistent about how it handles your ability to Comment or Like. Some things you can’t Comment on without reposting. In some cases, hitting Like tries to add something to your feed or try to sign you up for something. The problem is that “Like” has too many meanings and I shouldn’t have to try to keep track of it.

    (3) Going back and trying to find a thread from a few days ago isn’t easy. It’s there, but inconsistently accessible. To me, FB designers clearly want this to be a stream of consciousness meta conversation.

    (4) Finally, as mentioned by others, there’s the rollout of new features or ways things get done. We’ve gone from “would you like to try the new profile?” to “your profile will be changed to the new profile in a few days.” Other features and changes show up without warning. I am not against innovation and updating — I can object to doing it gracelessly.

    To say that FB wasn’t designed for me isn’t an elitist rant — I use FB because I can still glean useful information from it. But I also do a lot of cut-and-paste into WordPad documents so I can access the information easier and faster than going through FB itself.

    Thanks, John, for putting this conversation out in the world. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

  100. @95 – THIS:

    The vast majority of people with Facebook accounts, grandmas and otherwise, are not Facebook’s customers. Advertisers are Facebook’s customers. Facebook app developers are Facebook’s customers. Everyone else on Facebook is a product whose personal information can be milked for those customers’ benefit.

    A Web social-networking platform that existed for the benefit of the masses, without offering anything for third parties to skim off, would not be very hard to code, but it would have to charge money to all of its subscribers. Most people just don’t want to pay money, even a token amount, to belong to a social-networking site. And if the vast majority of your friends and relatives don’t want to buy a membership in your social-networking site, it’s not very social, is it?

    This is the point I was trying to make. There can be no expectation of real privacy from a company and a system that makes its profit based on personal data. By all means, tell the companies like facebook they should be good, responsible citizens and protect peoples’ right to privacy. And while they’re laughing at THAT uproarious joke, take steps to protect yourself.

  101. @ Dr. Phil

    Agreed, to all four points. The levels at which Facebook decides what it will show you at any given moment drive me absolutely batty. What in the sam hill is the difference between “Top News” and “Most recent,” and why isn’t it tweakable? Why is post X visible at this view and not this one? Why on my phone and not on the computer, or vice versa. It’s a mystery! *throws up hands*

    Forget being away from the computer for a week and then trying to catch up with happenings. Seven days may or may not be “too old” by Facebook standards, apparently according to the moon phase, barometric readings, or the tilt of your head relative to your shoulders. (Anyone familiar with Macintosh SCSI chains knows this frustration intimately.)

    Apart from the persistent and infuriating data mining, the interface is inconsistent and kludgy. It grates.

  102. John Scalzi:

    This is actually where I will stick up for Facebook and other social networks of its kind — it is easier, and also to the point it’s easier to use a dedicated social services “friend finding” functions than it is to set up RSS feeds and such and so on.

    I will agree that it is easier to find people on Facebook, but as Robin’s case demonstrates, that is not always a good thing. I have friends on Facebook that I never talked to in high school. A number of people have already mentioned that if you really want to communicate with someone, you will have a means of communication other than Facebook.

    I use Firefox and Google Reader, and I only need two clicks to add a RSS feed. Posting on Blogger is pretty quick, the interface is similar to Google Documents. (No offense intended to the fine people at WordPress.)

    Don’t get me wrong, I like blogs — I mean, obviously — but I also think most people don’t really want a blog. To do them well and to make them interesting is work, and I suspect most people just want to keep in touch with friends.

    I don’t think most people want a blog like Whatever or The Huffington Post. However, if your audience is your family and a couple of friends, then there is considerably less work involved.

  103. John, thanks for putting into words all the feelings and reservations I have about Facebook, and social networking sites in general.

  104. i will say this for Facebook, when I logged on with my Nook it knew I was using a Nook and the view I saw was formatted for the Nook. So far no other website has done that.

  105. So many people feel defensive about being pro-Facebook. My husband keeps prodding me to USE IT MOAR. I don’t care. I blog when I feel like it. I had a Twitter account, decided it was too much trouble (and people were tweeting the smallest things that I wasn’t the slightest bit interested in but that I had to delete or mark as read laboriously). I have over 300 people on my FB friends list (I use it as a virtual address book to get a hold of people who are otherwise impossible to contact) and it’s just too much trouble to go through the list every single day. I like e-mail. I like blogs (because people actually make sense on blogs instead of being cryptic and going “Oho see my hipster cred!”) I don’t like IM because it keeps me from doing any work, I don’t like Twitter for the same reason (plus it’s FAR more annoying than IM), and dammit I don’t like FB because I have better things to do with my life (like actually HAVE one).

  106. Put me in the love/hate pile with FB. I was talked into joining about a year and a half ago. I got talked into a couple of games that became a huge time suck and have dumped most of them as a New Year’s resolution. But the games were fun and allow me to have some interaction with family that I see rarely, which is nice. I went through and ‘unfriended’ some folks a while back because frankly, I didn’t know them that well, their updates were not that interesting to me (what is it about the thing that makes people post cryptic updates?). I have taken the privacy to the extent possible, and while a couple of old friends from my school days have gotten a hold of me, I am fine in making it harder rather than easier to contact me for all the reasons you should. Those that are left are people I want to interact with, and I have even found a new acquaintance in the UK through an in game message/chat function, which is nice. I also am in the column that hates the ‘hey! New Update! Changing things again for no good reason! Enjoy because this is just the way it is done!’ aspect of it.

    So all that said – I get why my more tech savvy friends don’t like it. I get why some of my friends are leery of it. And I get why a lot of my friends love it – sometimes not wisely but too well. But I also wonder how long it will continue to be around. It seems to have crested the wave of ‘new cool thing’ and by the chatter of some of the Geek Gods out there, it is on the downhill run.

  107. makes me want to shove a camera lens up Zuckerberg’s left nostril 24 hours a day

    Do you have one of those “Inner Space” sized cameras???
    If so, where can I buy one?

  108. Yeah… that recent MySpace makeover has driven quite a large number of people off it by severely limiting the lengths of posts and comments, and truncating all past posts and comments to that same length. Apparently there was a vibrant play-by-post roleplaying community there that saw all their games get cut off at the knees….

  109. “Our nation’s grandmothers deserve a better nerd-mainstreaming experience”

    This applies to a number of techie tidbits.

    I’m picturing robots from StarWars, sometimes annoying, sometimes petulant, sometimes dumb enough to mistake a multi-kilovolt power coupling for a serial port, but your go-to guy when your hyperdrive needs fixing.

    And what do we have? Fricken roombas, man. Things can’t even pick up lint, for cripes sakes.

    Their biggest sales niche seems to be hackers who want to take them apart, rebuild them, and enter them into “robot wars” contests.

    I have no use for a protocol droid. Do you speak binary? How about Bacchi? Look, I’m asking questions in natual language and you’re not understanding. What part of “suck up that dust bunny” do you not understand?

  110. As far as the functionality of Facebook goes, I’ve had a question for about a year now that none of my supersmart geek friends can answer. I like to click the X in the corner of the ads, select other, and send rude comments to the advertisers. Example: “Your product would be useful to me if I were deceased and living on Neptune. Please contact me again when that happens.” I will make up something like this, randomly paste the same message to a few dozen ads, and I feel fantastic. This activity brings me joy in and of itself, but I’d like to know if these comments go anywhere. What rough beast, his hour come round at last, is so lowly that he has nothing better to do with his life than read my snarky responses to Facebook ads? And when is he going to run for public office?

  111. At least LOL has a verb as part of the acronym. After decades of “she okayed it” or “he fubared it”, “I lol’d” doesn’t seem so strange. Until one tries to put it in the past tense, anyway, since the verb “loll” is already extant and “loled” looks wrong.

  112. Anonymous Soprano @108/110: So Facebook isn’t the happy social-networking Whizbangtopia after all, but is a kind of mindless privacy-devouring megashark that cannot be reasoned with, feels no pity, remorse or fear…..? That was a bit of a shift.

    Of course Facebook – like just about every other free Web service – runs on advertising. Of course it has a profit motive. None of that requires Facebook to be crappy or to screw with users’ privacy. People will happily hand over gobs of private information in return for goodies. Look at Google; however much one is cynical about ‘don’t be evil’, compare their attitude and implementation of privacy towards Facebook’s.

    And there is, in fact, an incentive not to be, as it were, a dick: people aren’t trapped on Facebook, and there are a lot of hungry companies out there that would be happy to provide a better free experience and get advertisers. “But not everybody I know is on Facebook!” Well, yeah, that’s a bug, not a feature.

  113. So, in summary, FaceBook is not quite so bad as DIVX that it inspires consumer revolt, but not so good as, say, sliced bread that it gets its own phrase added to the lexicon which means, basically, this is the shit.

    It would seem that FaceBook is somewhere in the ballpark alongside something like 8-Tracks. Someone thought the consumers didn’t want to deal with fast forward and rewind and flipping cassettes around at the end, so they came up with a subpar design which in the long run self destructed its own product (the tapes slowly ate themselves) and eventually became a laughingstock decades after anyone has even seen an 8-Track tape.

    But with corporate indifference and arogance…. Hm. That would make it more like the Pinto.

    So, FaceBook is a Pinto with an 8-Track player.

  114. I’ve read only about the first quarter of the responses and don’t have time to read the rest, so I apologize if this has been mentioned somewhere already:

    The thing that bothers me about Facebook, Flickr, and several other popular sites, is not so much that they are the Internet done stupid, as they are an attempt to undo the Internet. The best thing about the Internet is that it provides for decentralization. Facebook, Flickr, etc. centralize things that really ought to be decentralized.

    Oh, I know why they do that. One is to be able to “own” the users and their data so that they can make money by advertising, games, and maybe more. The other is because it is much harder to implement Facebook, Flickr, etc. in a proper decentralized way. That’s mainly because most users would not have a place to put their part of the decentralized Facebook, Flickr, etc. or be able to manage it properly, and partly because the bandwidth to tie things together as you’d want to do is still not there. So those kinds of services probably have to be centralized today.

    Unless our governmental and corporate overlords prevent it (and they definitely seem to be trying to do so), that restriction eventually will go away. The folks working on Diaspora, a decentralized competitor to Facebook, think it is possible to do it now. I think they are too early, but maybe I’m wrong about that. Even if they are too early, they will provide some push in the right direction which might speed up a bit how soon the barriers to decentralized social networks will come down.

    So we probably have to endure centralized social networks for some time to come, until the conditions that allow them to be decentralized appear. But once those conditions do appear, I have little doubt that the centralized versions will lose their grip on their users. They will be forced to open up and participate in the decentralized network that will develop. After all, as Doc Searls pointed out, people resist being owned.

  115. “The best thing about the Internet is that it provides for decentralization. Facebook, Flickr, etc. centralize things that really ought to be decentralized.

    It is? WHY? See, I thought the best thing about the internet was the vast access to information sources it provided, removing the restrictions of territory and distance…a feature that these services all leverage. Flickr is nothing if I can’t share with my relatives and friends across 10 different states.

    And I can understand if you don’t want to be centralized, but why do you argue that thing ‘really ought to be’ decentralized? For me, centralization is a major ADVANTAGE of Facebook. I can link to my Flickr account, twitter account, youtube account…without having to perform six actions to share content from one service to another. I can understand that you might desire to Balkanize your information services, but I think you’ll need to provide a stronger case than it ‘ought to be decentralized’ for me to see it as a negative. Maybe I’m not understanding what you mean by ‘decentralized’.

  116. I think the point about (de)centralization is not whether it is convenient or not but whether monoplization results in quality services. it certainly *could*, but thats not the way monopolies tend to work.

    if you approach the internet as completely decentralized, then hopefully that results in people picking the best tools and sites and apps for each particular job they want to do. if you get monopolization, then customers get inertia to stay where they are and companies then try to leverage that inertia into getting more from customers then they would pay otherwise.

    the closest recent example I can think of is cell phones. Up until recently in the US carriers could refuse to give new customers their old phone number from their previous carrier. this made changing carriers a pain because you woukd have to get a new number and tell all your friends. and if you were waiting on an important call for say an interview then you probably wouldnt even take the chance. so you would stay with a crappy carrrier. and carriers knew this and would charge you even more money becauze they knew customers would tolerate some pain in how much they are charged to avoid the pain of changing numbers.

    a few years ago the law was changed to require carriers accept your old phone number as your new number, removing that bit of inertia and encouraging competition.

    there are still issues like two year contracts and such. But the idea is that centralization can create inertia for cuatomers and a company may or may not take advantage of that inertia for evil ends.

    decentralized services have no inertia to take advantage of.

  117. My Facebook is useful for keeping up with my family and friends worldwide. It’s easy and it’s cheap. That’s all I use it for. I have 300 friends and I should delete a few but I can’t be bothered. I do not play any stupid games or connect my fb to other sites ie Quora. I don’t want my friends knowing all my business and fb is far too nosey. My wall is super quiet and boring with family pics etc. No Twitter Quora or Tumblr posts, no spam. I never check my feed because I couldn’t care less. On the positive facebook was very useful reciently when my son was injured in England while on holiday. I updated my status daily and family and friends followed his progress which ment I didn’t have any phone calls.

  118. Well, no, decentralization isn’t the best thing about the Internet. If you want decentralized stores of information, they’ve existed for thousands of years. They’re called libraries. The primary benefit of the internet is and always has been the ability to easily share information, which is what it was intended to do.

    As far as Facebook goes, I find it frustrating because it does a bunch of stuff I don’t use but the one thing that I do want it to do, and what is ostensibly its primary purpose, keeping in touch with others, it does really poorly. Top news gives me maybe a third of the actual status updates, while the most recent gives me a bunch of stuff I’m not interested in. This is after I’ve scourged all game update crap from the thing, which would add another level of chaff. The thing is that top news used to work a lot better than it does now, or it seemed to.

    This is in addition to the constant non improving changes, but changing things in ways that don’t seem like they’d benefit most people is par for the course with Google., Flickr and probably every other online service.

  119. If you want decentralized stores of information, they’ve existed for thousands of years. They’re called libraries.

    Well, first of all, if the metaphor is “libraries”, then the point of the internet is not that it is “decentralized local libraries”. The point is that the internet is a single pipe through which you can access all those local libraries. Meatspace has all that annoying space that requires time and energy to move around in before you can even access the information. The internet has something like 20 different major sites with different dictionaries and you can access all those dictionaries through the internet. The time to acess is near nill. And the cost to access is often subsumed in a fixed monthly bill that allows up to some rather largish number of gigabytes of data access before cutting you off or charging you more.

    The libraries are still “local”. Still managed by different people with different goals and different decision making proceses and so on. The difference is the internet puts all those local libraries right next to one anotehr so you can check them all out easily. There is no equivalent to that in meatspace because meatspace has to respect physical distance. The internet can let you do first person shooter games in real time with people 8000 miles apart.

    The thing is the only way to achieve this is if the net is a neutral pipe. If access to any local “library” is equal in speed and cost to any other local “library” on the net, then the pipe becomes zero distance, zero cost, and essentially invisible. The local “libraries” get selected by users mostly on merit and there is no “inertia” to keep people tied to one particular library or another.

    That becomes a problem when you fail to implement “net neutrality”, though. Once the pipe becomes non-neutral, suddenly those who pay more are placed closer to the customers, those who can’t afford to pay more are placed further away from the customers. Suddenly you have inertia. The bigger companies can pay more to keep their roads shorter than the competition, so the competition is always squeezed out.

    The primary benefit of the internet is and always has been the ability to easily share information, which is what it was intended to do.

    Yeah, the internet was “intended” to share information within a small group of people. That was its original “purpose”. The thing is that it was designed with the metaphor of meatspace physical distance and energy sort of assumed into it being a small scale project. But the reality was that once internet connections became common enough and cheap enough, the metaphor became something like “caesar’s palmtop”, an idea that the full consequences of must change the world in which it lives.

    The game changer that is “distance is irrelevant and access is free” is what allowed projects like linux and especially wikipedia to take contributions from around the world from people who coud contribute a little time and a little energy and make a direct contribution to a project. Saying its “local libraries” is like saying wikipedia has any real world meatspace counterpart before the internet. It doesn’t. wikipedia has something on the scale of man hours that it took to put a man on the moon behind it, all of it donated for free (well, except teh few that make money off it). This is only possible because distances are traveled instantaneously and the cost of the connection is free.

    If the point was simply to “share information”, then use a telephone for point to point. Or make a few photocopies and hand them out. Or walk to your “local library” and pay for the cost of gas and time.

    No, the game changing thing about the internet is not “sharing information”, it is that it allows people to share information to essentially unlimited numbers of people, anywhere in the world, instantaneously, usually at some relatively small flat fee.

    At which point, all those “local libraries” become “global” and free to access, and then people select the best one with the best information, because there is no inertia to nudge them towards one over the other or to keep them there once they try one.

    It is this decentralization, this massively parallelization over massive distance in effectively zero time and nearly zero cost, that makes the internet what it is and makes the internet different from any metaphor one plucks from meatspace.

    Facebook without the internet is nothing more than pictures of you and your kids (and your kids artwork) posted on the refridgerator in your kitchen with magnets. Add the internet and suddenly everyone who wants to can see your refrigerator from anywhere in the world in real time at little cost.

    Facebook is the “shareing information” part. It is the “local library” part except its the “local refrigerator” in your kitchen. What the internet brings is the massive decentralization that comes from suddenly making your fridge visible to everyone in teh world instantaneously at zero cost.

  120. WizarDru @128 and others:

    My choice of words was not very good. Perhaps I should have said decentralization is a very important aspect of the internet. Centralization leaves the user open to all sorts of potential bad things: the company going broke and shutting down, lock-in that is almost like holding your data ransom, failure of the company to keep enhancing the services, changes in policies of the company, arbitrary choices to disappear your account for perceived violations of one kind or another, and the like. I don’t know whether most users are oblivious to those potential problems, or realize that since there is no alternative at the moment, they will just live with them.

    By advocating a decentralized approach, I do not mean that you would not be able to share with your friends and relatives across 10 states. A decentralized approach that still allows for sharing of data across the collection of separate sites, is the problem that I believe the Diaspora are trying to solve, or at least eventually must solve, so that the benefits of the current centralized approach can be maintained in a decentralized approach.

    That is, in Facebook terms, there still would be something like a wall upon which messages and status updates get posted, regardless of where the friend who posted has his data stored, and which all your friends can see, easily. You would still be able to see all the stuff your friends put in their accounts, regardless of where the friend has his data stored. In other words, the decentralized approach needs to look as if it were a big, centralized system without actually being centralized. Getting that to work is one big problem that has to be solved to enable this. Getting enough bandwidth available to everyone is part of that. Defining and implementing the appropriate data exchange protocols is another. There probably are other technical challenges I’m not thinking of.

    One solution might take a form something like current web hosting, where the servers and storage are provided by many independent companies that run the same software or different software that all implement the same protocols. A user signs up with one such provider, but he is connected to friends on any other provider. Email works like that today because all email providers follow the same data exchange protocols. In principle, the same sort of thing could work for a decentralized Facebook-like or Flickr-like service.

    That form of solution would be a step in the right direction, but users could still be vulnerable to problems with whatever provider they chose to host their presence. At least such problems would be isolated to a subset of users. A solution which put the servers and data in the user’s home could be better from that point of view, but that would require a way to relieve the user from the burden of managing the server and data, and would need the most improvement in bandwidth.

    How to pay for this? That’s another of the problems that needs to be solved before this could happen. Maybe the advertising and game playing revenue could continue to fund it. Maybe not. I have no idea about that.

    I don’t pretend that this is an easy problem to solve, but I think it is solvable, and, as I said before, unless our governmental and corporate overlords prevent it by crippling the internet, I believe the technical problems will be solved eventually. Whether such a decentralized social network would take hold with users will depend on how well the technical problems are solved and how well the business people who try to establish the network promote and support the services.

  121. Constance,

    FB is not a damned wheelchair ramp to the net, unless you want to imply that all wheelchair users are drooling stupid and don’t care to be used as marketing fodder in a constantly shifting environment with no control and no privacy protections. More like a pretty wheelchair ramp over a cliff.

    Facebook makes the old yelling about AOL marketing and privacy seem “quaint” and overblown. Their interface is infuriating for many non-technical users whenever they try to do anything other than post banalities, photos or add more leech-like apps and services. I don’t know how many times my far less technical 59 year old friend ends up screaming in frustration when the thing won’t let her delete some stupid app, ad, pseudo friend, or some such. She does not want to give them her damn cell phone number or address, but they insist on it (so they can sell her data to marketers to spam her more, which she hates) just to let her control her own damn account!!

    This is a “good” thing? This is something that breaks down barriers based on privilege? Only if the barrier being broken is that we are all sheep to be shorn by the wolves to whom they would sell the details of our lives and the right to call us day and night to sell us more cheap junk and inane games. Is that really the equality you want?

    BTW, I consider your “wheelchair” analogy to be ableist as hell, insulting as hell, and you need to check your privilege before you start whining about nerd privilege.

    Ravan, geek, gimp

  122. John, one thing I’ve noticed is that you have close to 5,000 friends on Facebook. While I’m sure you’re a popular guy, I very much doubt that you know that many people in real life. I think people tend to get much more out of a social network when that network is manageable — it’s why I tend to only accept a friend request if it’s by someone I actually know. And even then I don’t always accept it. I used to be much more promiscuous in who I friended and I noticed that my Facebook experience severely diminished because of it. By having too many friends — people who found me through my blog, people I’d met at one party and never talked to again, etc… — it created a wall of noise. So one day I went on an unfriending spree and narrowed my group down to fewer than 300, and my experience improved almost immediately. What began to show up in my news feed actually interested me and I was able to interact with real friends more intimately.

  123. Great article and it articlutes my own problems with FB. My main problem is that they trick you into revealing info you don’t want to reveal by making their privacy settings difficult to understand, and changing them without notice. This feels actually abusive to me. And they do it over and over again. I like what you said about it feeling like an intrusive salesman groping you. To me it feels like head games and I hate head games.

    Having to sit down and figure out how to work all that stuff is just that many more hours staring into the void where there is no actual human contact. I am very ambivalent about computers for that reason, but my business is communications and I am yoked to the glowing (eye-hurting) screen for 40 hours a week.

    The other thing FB did was keep putting up pictures of old colleagues I didn’t want to see, under the heading “friends you may know” –not! One of them was a person I worked with for years and spent holidays with and quite a lot of social time. One person had told me she wasn’t actually a friend, and I blew that off. After I left the job because of a blowout with management (and it wasn’t even slightly my fault, the management routinely blindsided workers) this person ignored my friend request on FB. That hurt. It made me wonder what people were saying about why I left, if lies were being told, if she (still working there) was selling me out by telling people stories of my life that I would rather not be told. So that sucked, and I just couldn’t help thinking these things, OK? THEN, I still had to see her face all the time. And there’s no way to configure your page to turn the damn thing off. So logging on to Facebook became not as fun, in fact my stress level rose every time I logged in because I was reminded of this person’s snub (and I even stood up for her when people were dissing her! Damn!) Anyway, the bad vibes portion of Facebook eventually led me to close the account. My former workplace colonized FB and while most of the people I ran into friended me, the ones who didn’t just bothered the hell out of me.

    The other thing is that you can’t pimp out your profile like on Myspace and there’s no option for a profile song!!!! I can’t believe people accepted and embraced this so overwhelmingly. I would die without a theme song!!! What kind of soulless robothead creates a visual prison for the people who come to his site? White boxes, print that’s way too tiny to read, intrusive details on what everyone is doing right front and center…and no music…not even an option….Zuckerbird is what you said he is. To a Tee. A colleague of mine was saying how America is great because people like him can make 26 billion dollars (or however much it is, that’s probably too high). But I agree with your analysis more. Right place, right time. Plus he had someone to give him the idea, which didn’t hurt, and a best friend, who he later screwed, who made the whole thing possible. See the movie, it’ll piss you off.

    No…Myspace’s aesthetic appeals to me way more, and it’s not ugly if you make it cool. My brother has a great page which shows you a slide show of army photos against a background of a great aerial shot covering a landing strip. The song “Wayward Son” plays (and knowing him, it means something). Myspace is more a place for “here’s my thing” ie, for artists to present something that engages the senses online. That is difficult to do. It’s astounding that with such a visual medium, people are oK with representing themselves through FB’s totalitarian, unyielding little white boxes.

    So Myspace works great though their customer service is the absolute worst. At least they don’t constantly change things, forcing me to sit staring into the void for hours trying desperately to find the solution.
    I do have a FB account because websites are now requiring you to have it, to comment. I have one friend. I keep my contacts at Myspace, which I don’t actually update much.
    Thanks for writing this column, I just found you following me on Twitter and I’ll have to follow back. I enjoy the writing and thinking and the winter photo is great.
    From Southern California–CB

  124. FB strikes me as a classic case of marketing over matter and mind. I think John has raised a really important issue that can be applied to an awful lot of the goods and services we consume; they are often poorly designed, poorly supported and geared toward upgrades and improvements that do not enhance the consumer’s experience, but only the revenue stream of the provider.
    FB could and should be a damned sight better than it is. I don’t agree it is transparent and easy to use – my 14 year old son has decided to dive into the FB pool and we spent at least 2 hours trying to sort out his privacy settings, profile etc etc – and he will still have the issue that his ‘friends’ can send his materials on without his permission or control.
    Its email is just atrocious; apps are slow and laden with advertising; and what passes for privacy controls is laughable. Not that we should suppose Google, Twitter etc etc are necessarily any better – Google’s engagement with Chinese government censorship for example should give us all pause for thought.
    But it is really frustrating that FB is just plain tacky when it could be better. Same reason I get very cranky about Apple products. Which other hardware manufacturer has the privilege of controlling the software that will run on their machines? Who else’s software engineers have the privilege of known hardware environments for their programming? Look at Apple’s hissy fit over Flash – sure its clunky & potentially buggy – but every PC manufacturer manages to handle it’s bad behaviour. Point being Apple products (as sleek as they are) should be, given their advantages, much much better than they are. Much much much better. And cheaper too. Though I suppose they have to pay for all that marketing somehow….

  125. So, their new-to-me tactic pops up in the sidebar occasionally now: “Your account protection status: Very Low” with a link to “increase protection.” Step two of “updating your security information” is to add a phone number.

    F- you, no. How many people will buy that they need to “increase their security” by violating their own privacy? This kind of business model gives me hives, I hate that it’s considered acceptable.

  126. I have a two pronged dislike of facebook.
    1. The privacy issues really annoy the bejesus out of me. I can no longer trust that the information I give them is going to remain confidential, and that they won’t switch my settings without warning me or asking my permission (and hiding that information or request in something else is not the same thing). So I have basically no information on there about me which I’m not fine with broadcasting to the world at large anyway (and I still have the privacy settings which don’t) which the system can’t cope with if too many people do since it makes the FB ecosphere less useful to the users.

    2. The user experience is an absolute abomination which is only accepted because it’s perceived as the only option. As a UX professional, I may be somewhat biased in this regard, but the experience of using facebook is actually far from intuitive for a new user who is not tech savvy, or isn’t already comfortable navigating around websites. The fact is that a lot of the “older generation” who we think of as being the ones who facebook is good for because of this idea that it’s simple, are more web savvy than we often assume, and facebook does a lot of the work for them, because in many cases it puts together your profile without you asking it to. It’s not a good user interface, but it’s a very creepy level of data mining that’s going on without your permission. This is how a friend of mine found his mother on facebook, much to his mother’s surprise. Facebook and her Mac had conspired to sign her up and create a profile.

    The interface is unintuitive, and beyond a few basic things, it’s almost impossible to find the features you’re looking for. It’s like they didn’t have a usability expert involved in the design, or they ignore them. It’s one of the worst cases of engineer designed interfaces I’ve seen, and I’ve seen some horrifically convoluted ones.

  127. “Facebook and her Mac had conspired to sign her up and create a profile.” yeah, right. No. Sorry. Never happened. Her mac and Facebook did not surreptitiously sign her up. That simply does not happen. She signed up. She might have forgotten. She might have wanted to Like something and thought she was signing in to a commenting interface vs signing up for FB… but the idea that her Mac and FB did this independently is not credible.

    As I said upthread, anyone who now shares information on Facebook assuming confidentiality is being silly. First, what’s the point of putting something on a social networking site that you don’t want to share? Second, FB has proven that they will alter settings and expose information that wasn’t exposed previously. Odious as that is, the practical approach at this point is to only post information to FB that you’re OK with sharing.

  128. Thanks Jon! It’s nice to see that I’m not alone out there – and that there are other COOL people who hate Facebook! I check it, respond to other people’s posts once in a while, but post things about me on it??? Nope. That is, unless my dog does something funny. No one’s going to try and invade the privacy of my dog…..

  129. It is interesting that Douglas Rushkoff also made the comparison with AOL, Friendster and MySpace, in his oped in CNN in which he predicts the end of Facebook, based on the ‘cashing in’ action of Facebook helped by archvillain in that respect Goldman Sachs.

    Perhaps the crap usability and the lax privacy of Facebook will make room for an upstart competitor. If you can then import your Facebook contacts, or maybe even just manage them from the new site, that would be a good Trojan Horse strategy.

  130. I am so thankful for facebook, it allowed me to have contact with friends and family that live far away and find friends from many years ago. I am able to find out important information about friends and family, concerning life episodes either bad or good, it allows a person to share in the joy of joyous occasions and events in their lives, it has changed my life to know where my friends are and have traveled to visit them, otherwise would not have known or forgotten them. I am also thankful for facebook that when a friend in need needs prayer for a certain situation, I am able to add them to my prayers and the power of prayer is profound. It is true miracle of technology that people can connect this way, it has changed so many lives. If there are certain people that you don’t like their comments, there is a delete button or to not accept the friendship and also it is free will if a person wants to play a game or accept the gifts people send, most of facebook is optional and you can make facebook your friend or enemy and hate it, it is totally up to the person. Also, the pictures that can be shared is wonderful, I was in southern California with my son and my husband was at home, I posted a picture to facebook from my phone and in seconds my husband saw the picture on facebook, wow when I was young there was no thought that that could ever happen in my lifetime. Also to have the pictures to share to people you have lost contact with? Words can’t describe the happiness I feel when one of my friends becomes a grandma and I instantly see the new baby, I have had tears in my eyes to see the proud parents of their kids in sports and activities and even Christmas morning them opening their gifts, I felt like I was there also. I had the experience of watching my brother build his new house thousands of miles away. I have had people post pictures of me when I was in high school, pictures I haven’t seen until now. The Joy that Facebook has brought me, I want to thank the nerd that founded it and it doesn’t matter what type of person he is, he has definitely changed life forever!!!!!!

  131. I find social networking bordering rudeness. No, I am not the self-centered, mal-adjusted, egomaniac that can’t handle rejection. But I need to know that I am rejected, not kept in a limbo, not knowing what my status with people is. Just because X accepted my invitation, am I part of his life now, even though he hasn’t really commented on any of my entries yet? Y, who was my close friend in school, would not accept my invitation, although she has accepted Z’s AFTER I had sent her mine – didn’t she see mine? Or did I do something to offend or alienate her? So, why does she not just reject my invitation? At least there would be closure. Q sent me an invitation, who on earth is Q? She seems to be in the neighborhood of all my friends, so, she must be someone I knew. Why does E write to F and not to me ? If you get the image of me constantly obsessing over such matters, you are wrong. But in the course of my FB time, such fleeting thoughts do whizz past along with the seventy nine 2-sec thought bytes that cruise in and out. And I don’t like it. I would much rather have fleeting thoughts such as “this would be a good blog post topic” or “I need to file this thought for later proposal use”, or “graphene is such a cool discovery worth the Nobel” if at all I don’t mind thoughts that fleet, which I do, by the way.

    Social networking sites numb your perseverance and kill your patience. Facebook and twitter have justified, even glorified laziness and delineated, incoherent thoughts. We would much rather spend five minutes jumping from person to person than the same time reading (or worse, creating) something that requires a certain amount of consistent effort and concentration. It has reached a level where nothing ever registers any more.

    Oh well, I guess some of us are just misfits, no?

  132. “…the functionality the Web already had, just not all in one place at one time.”
    Centralization has its utility. Just because something is available doesn’t make it convenient. That’s what FB does.

  133. Facebook is a direct result of the failure of alpha nerds of the internet to come up with good distributed solutions.

    The battles over RSS/RDF/ATOM etc were completely ridiculous and focused on painfully annoying tech specs rather than making things easy for users.

    Instead of making web pages and making updates so easy that anyone could do it, we ended up with systems clogged with spam pages and a syndication system so difficult that My Yahoo was the most popular RSS reader(!).

    Corporatized centralization wins when geeks fail. Facebook is the current winner.

    If email were created today, it would belong completely to one company.

  134. i feel dumber after reading this..

    Zuckerberg is in fact not a genius; he’s an ambitious nerd who was in the right place at the right time, and was apparently willing to be a ruthless dick when he had to be.

    ^^ thats called sour grapes.. jealous much?

    im glad you ranted about facebook – but its not like you ever talk to me (or even have the decency to say happy birthday) sounds to me like you’re someone who is socially inept and just blasting facebook for your own lack of social motivation.

  135. rubbercub:

    “jealous much?”

    YES. It burns me down to my VERY SOUL, it does. THANK YOU for being the only person who sees my inner pain.

    (breaks down in cathartic sobs)

  136. “Facebook is what happens to the Web when you hit it with the stupid stick.”

    Can I get that on a T-shirt?

  137. I have never written code in my life yet I understand all of your problems with facebook. If I could write code I would make a site to stay in touch with my family and friends and exclude facebook telling me whom I should friend, what I should buy, etc. People I do not know would not send me friend requests! It would be wonderful. Instead I am deleting my facebook account this week and hope some of the people I have enjoyed being in touch with will take the time to email me on occasion.

  138. If Facebook was a puddle and I was to stand in it… I wouldn’t even get my feet wet. That’s how shallow and superficial Facebook is.

  139. Marvelous. That was super instructive. Just wished to say thank you…
    Looking forward to the next piece of content. ( Please post faster haha)

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