Contest Update and Facebook Followup

Quick notes:

Haiku Contest: I was going to announce it today but I think I’ll end up announcing it tomorrow or Friday. The reason for this: I have selected a winner (yay!) but I also want to name three or four finalists, so I’m combing through the haikus again for those. Hey, there are several hundred. I want to be fair. So: Tomorrow. Maybe Friday. But there is definitely a winner.

Facebook Entry: A couple of points here on today’s Facebook post.

* In comments here and elsewhere there was interpretation of me saying that Facebook wasn’t for someone like me, but it was for normal people as a) a way to signal that I am awesome and smart and also awesome, and b) normal people are stupid and suck, and that’s why they use Facebook. Yeah, no. It’s not for me because the functionality doesn’t map well for what I want to do or have for my online experience, and “normal” in this case doesn’t mean “stupid people who suck,” it means “people who don’t want to make the time/energy commitment to run their own site.”

In this estimation, one of the normal people I’m speaking about is my wife, who has zero interest in maintaining her own site — even though I bought the domain in case she ever did — but who uses Facebook because her family and friends are on it, and who is reasonably happy with it even if I am not. If you think I’m going to call my wife stupid (or worse, think that she is stupid), well, the most charitable thing I can say about that is you probably don’t know me all that very well.

* Likewise, for the people who wish to suggest I’m a snob about hoi polloi getting their sticky little fingers all over my precious, precious Web, a gentle reminder that in the mid-90s I used to work full time at AOL, the original home of the September That Never Ends, and that for three and a half years in the mid-aughts, I was the “mayor” of AOL Journals, the company’s (eventually unsuccessful) attempt to create its own LiveJournal experience. Basically, my professional experience argues against such a position. My problems with Facebook are not based on its popularity but on its design and its ethos regarding member data privacy.

* To the person who sent the e-mail that said “Yeah! Do Twitter next!”: I’m going to have to disappoint you because in fact I like Twitter quite a bit and find it complementary to what I already do online rather than a fumbling attempt to replace it with something less good. I’ve already discoursed on Twitter at length so there’s no point in repeating myself; click through that link if you want to know of what I think about it. But I will say that between Twitter and Facebook, I know which one I enjoy more.

29 Comments on “Contest Update and Facebook Followup”

  1. I guess it’s another example of seeing what one wants to see, because I did not perceive any of those interpretations in what you wrote. I dislike Facebook because of the privacy issues along with other aspects I won’t go into, and I like Twitter but don’t tweet much because I live a VERY dull life.

    To each their own.

  2. Staking a claim to that domain for your wife was a good idea for a couple of reasons. It’s there if the idea of her own web site grows on her. (It happens.) It also keeps bitter rivals and unstable fans from taking it and making a mock tell-all site full of lies and innuendo to smear your name just because you haven’t answered my emails.

    I mean, uh, good idea.

  3. Seriously? THIS is what some people choose to take offense at today? John Scalzi’s rant about the tech reasons he doesn’t like Facebook?

    It may be time for some people to search deep in their souls, rummage around in their darkest personal corners, and see if they might POSSIBLY be projecting their insecurities onto others just a l-i-t-t-l-e too much.

  4. “* To the person who sent the e-mail that said “Yeah! Do Twitter next!”: I’m going to have to disappoint you […]”

    You grade our mash notes, too? Well, crap.

  5. Facebook does fill a need. The question is: can someone come along and fill the need in a better way? Given the network effect, I am doubtful.

    Personal blogs do not fill the same need as Facebook. Blogs are entirely public, the need is for a private or semipublic space. People want to post in a way that their boss or their ex can’t see.
    Sure, you could use generic user/password security, but you aren’t going to get all of your friends, coworkers and relatives to sign up for a new password just for you.

    The objection that it is a “walled garden replacing the Internet” is, I think, unfair. Facebook walls off no content like AOL did. Hell, a quarter of my Facebook feed is links to the global Internet. It’s more like a person’s house, where they don’t have to interact with just anyone who stops by, as opposed to the Internet, which is the public library.

    Now I think that Facebook is increasingly failing in this model, by making it harder to keep this a semipublic space, and I think their general privacy model is horrible. But I do think there’s a need here that is otherwise unfilled.

  6. I can just image you trying to say that to your wife. I think the cats leave prettier presents that what she would leave of you.

    Oh look, Krissy left us a little Scalzi head and a Scalzi foot on our door mat. That’s so cute.

  7. Yes, all the reasons why I spend only a small amount of time on facebook (I refuse to play games on there that were obsolete 20-25 years ago).
    But love checking Twitter for various things and so much funnier in so fewer characters.
    St. Fry of Twitter rules…..

  8. I’ve always associated the September that Never Ends with the influx of AOL users onto Usenet. (Back in my day, all we had was Usenet newsgroups and we were happy to have them! Kids today have it soft!) As Usenet fades away does the September that Never Ends come to an end? Are we blogging in the end times?

    Another puzzling technical question from the previous Facebook thread, if someone “tears you a new one” on a site that you don’t bother to read, does it still hurt?

  9. You discoursed at length on Twitter? Wow, thats an achievement with such a short word count :)

    Sorry, I left my sarcasm on there.

    I perfectly agree with your assessment of facebook. I have some of the same problems with it (though I tolerate them for the good stuff). I actually find twitter annoys me more sometimes (but it also has its charms). I am just waiting for those two kids to get together and spawn a hybrid monster of a child that combines all the good properties of both and none of the bad. Then this behemoth will devour the world and the prophesy in Revelations will come true. I’m thinking of calling it but not sure middle America would appreciate the irony…

  10. Noooo! I have been waiting all day to see the winner of the name contest….How disappointing

  11. Ha, that rant reminded me of that Dilbert where the old Unix guru offers Wally a nickel to go get a real computer. I often feel like that crusty old Unix guy myself. I have a similar background with unix/html/The Internet of Back in the Day and Facebook just doesn’t do it for me. Partly because I totally object to the privacy issues. I had a guy get salty with me because I refused to use Facebook to log into his website yesterday. Dude, no. That way you get all of my information and all of my friends’ information and no. But also? It’s kind of the same issue I had with MySpace – I’m just not that into me.

    @Steve Burnap: You know what was amazing? Google Wave. I loved the hell out of Google Wave – too bad there were only about five of us who did. I thought it was the ideal way to interface with my buddies. We could email or realtime chat as we pleased, we could insert any media we wanted, we could bring in our friends – then splinter back off to a private chat. It was a-freakin-mazing. I was damn sorry to see that go.

  12. I’m with ya Karen. I refreshed this page more times than I would like to admit, just to see who the winner was. No biggie, though, I guess.

  13. @11 On the other hand, and probably more likely, you might get a hybrid monster that takes the worst of both worlds, and then it really will deserve a website.

    @15 I wanted to like Google Wave. The thing that killed it for me was the incredible amount of lag that it took to run it. Not sure if it was my lack of processor power or insufficient internet speed, but trying to do anything in those conditions was painful.

  14. @15 Similar login-for-comments approach over at the place where Scalzi does his movie columns. You have to use your FB login or one of five other similar services (Google, Twitter, MySpace and a couple of others I can’t recall). I had the same reaction as you did.

  15. I think one thing I actually LIKE about Facebook isn’t really Facebook itself…it’s the connectivity to other services. Twitter can feed into my FB account (and for many of my friends, does). I can go to youtube or Kotaku or a host of other places and the ‘share’ link has a connection the Facebook I can use. YES, there are links to other services, but I don’t use Tumblr, Digg, or a host of other Nerd-Hip websites. I barely have time to maintain Facebook, Twitter and LJ (not to mention Dreamwidth)…and LJ has stopped being useful since most of my friends have moved on to Facebook. Lengthy blog posts that only 10 people will read can be saved for e-mail or a wall post (although here is where the length of wall posts becomes an issue).

    I also sincerely believe that eventually another service will come along that will take FB’s lunch, in the same way as they took MySpace’s and so on.

  16. I like FB for a couple of reasons:
    1. It allows me to keep my extended family and friends I don’t see frequently up-to-date on what’s going on in my life. Especially sharing photos and milestones of my 1 yr old daughter. It’s also easy to check in on people I haven’t seen in a while.
    2. I can set-up Events for people to respond to and attend.
    3. I can share links to, say, comics, t-shirts, and cool articles, with multiple people without clogging their email and resulting in a bunch of Reply-All’s, which I hate.

    But yeah, I understand why people don’t like FB. Especially with the privacy issues.

  17. Sorry, ,John, I simply can’t help but chuckle at you. You disparage Facebook for its poor design and its policy on privacy (you get to choose, but in order to choose you have to know what you’re doing. The horror.) and then turn around and point out that you like Twitter, which has a far *worse* design and makes *no attempt* to protect user privacy.

    The issue may be that you’re not thinking of them as the same sort of thing. Fair enough, Twitter is just blogging for SMS — literally a dumber version of the web that comes in 140 character spurts, while Facebook is a real social network. But SMS is increasingly irrelevant (as SMS-reliant texting phones and the old cell networks are replaced by smartphones and 4G) where the value of a community organized around (and more importantly, controlled by) a person rather than a site or activity is something that’s not going away any time soon.

  18. JediBear:

    “then turn around and point out that you like Twitter, which has a far *worse* design and makes *no attempt* to protect user privacy.”

    Meh. You and I disagree about its design, and in my experience Facebook is far more aggressive about trying to worm its way into every aspect of my online life while at the same time fronting a “get over it” ethos when called on its obnoxiousness. I have to spend less time managing Twitter, and that is part of the reason I see more value in it for me.

    I do in fact see Twitter and Facebook as doing separate things; as noted, I see Twitter as complementary to what I already do, and Facebook trying hard to replace what I do with an inferior product. And while I agree that Twitter is in many ways “texting on the Internet,” suggesting that because SMS is becoming irrelevant, Twitter may also become so doesn’t track. SMS is a particular technology, whereas “texting” is an action. Twitter seems to be doing just fine carrying over that behavior into a new medium.

  19. Eridani@15: I think part of the problem with Google Wave was their insistance on transmitting every character as you typed. There was no point in this, and it just screwed up performance.

    That and “waves” just got too unwieldy when they got big.

    John: Unless you have a secret account, your Twitter usage is not the norm in that you appear to use it entirely as a microblog/broadcast service rather than as a two-way social networking service. Nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if it is this is part of what turns you off of Facebook. (Given that Facebook wants to force two-way networking in a way that Twitter does not.)

  20. Facebook is great for keeping up with with friends and family who don’t live near you. Considering that your friends list is more a fans list, you’ve kind of nerfed yourself. It’s hard to keep your sister up to date on what’s going on in your life when the 4785 other people on your friends list are total strangers and you may not want them to know that Athena threw up on your feet last night (or whatever). I still haven’t figure out wtf Twitter is for. Tried it for a while, and the only thing I really used it for was updating my FB status while at work (and before I had an iPhone). I agree that FB’s sketchy privacy policies are very disturbing, and I’ve taken to closely managing my settings and not inputting sensitive information. Just because there’s a box labeled “SSN” doesn’t mean you have to fill it in.

  21. I use Facebook to keep up with family and friends as I am a few states over from all of them. I also use it as a social way to talk to other artists.
    I don’t have 6000 friends either because I don’t really want people that I do not know knowing my business or seeing photos of my family and kids. I never have played the I have more friends than you game and probably never will. I would rather have a few good friends then 1000 people that I know their names.
    Facebook is what you make of it. I think it is a 150% improvement over myspace that lets everyone put backgrounds and animation and flash all over their page and they all over do it and it takes five minutes for one of their pages to load and then it is slow because of all the crap on it.
    I know that Facebook or any other social site is not fool proof…I just try not to be the fool most of the time.

  22. Facebook has never really appealed to me, but I like Twitter. My biggest complaint about Twitter is the distraction it causes when I need to concentrate (not unlike email or phone calls). To me, Facebook is a big commitment while Twitter is like a casual fling.

  23. So glad to see a reference to the September That Never Ends. I like to think that’s what that Green Day song is about.

    I have a friends only Facebook account that I use for stories about my kids, and really like that you can mute most of the other crap on the site. But I’d been doing that for years via blogs and such. I do like that I can now do it with my non-blogging friends, of which I do have a few.

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