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July 31, 2007
Facebook is the opposite of what I'm looking for
Somewhere, I like to think, there is or will be a network comprising only those who can find it. And when I finally stumble in there, they'll say, "We've been waiting for you."
It's not Facebook, a "social network" of 30 million or so.
I signed up for Facebook so I could see the Washington Post's Compass app there, after reading Facebook: Ripe for News Applications? by Amy Gahran, writing at Poynter's E-Media Tidbits blog. She quotes fellow Tidbitter Steve Outing:
I've heard Rob Curley [Vice President of Product Development for Washingtonpost Newsweek Interactive] say that in developing their Facebook application, The Compass, his team didn't think it made sense to have a headline widget for Facebook; they wanted to do something that Facebook's younger crowd might be more likely to use....
Here's the link to Compass, but unless you've already signed up for Facebook, you won't see it. (Facebook is a walled garden, not indexed by search engines.)
First comes a survey with 10 obvious questions on political issues (abortion, bring the troops home, gay rights, etc.) with 5 positions, from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree, with "No opinion / indifferent" in the middle. Then you get a cool compass to put on your profile. I chose #3 -- the slacker option -- every time and got the predictable this:
But here's the money quote (literally), below. When you install the app, these come checked by default, and you can't uncheck the first one on any application:
Get productive with the best Facebook Apps at Lifehacker pointed up a resemblance to early AOL and Prodigy: Only tools made specifically for Facebook work there. I may have an idea, but I probably can't create it, since I'm not a developer. On the Web, with open-source and free software, mashups and little utilities, I probably could.
Sheila removed the The Compass application. 11:33pm
Sheila added the The Compass application. 11:30pm
Creepy. Facebook tracked everything I did, and wants me to tell all my friends what I'm doing. You can update your status -- At work, At home, At school... -- anytime. Not me. Wherever I am, I don't want the burglars ("She's at work. Let's cruise by...") and political telemarketers to know that. ("Look, she's home. Call now!")
I'm not looking to put my life online.
(If you want to deal with me professionally, I'm on LinkedIn, which demands little.)
Among 30 million people and the many thousands of groups they've created, I hoped to find something to like, but the tools there don't seem fine-tuned enough to find it.
I quickly saw I'd have to try the most obscure interest I have. I lived in Gambia, West Africa a long time ago and eventually spoke pretty good Wolof. I typed in "wolof" and found seven groups, including one for "toubabs" -- white people -- who speak Wolof, with 26 members writing short. ("We talk only wolof.") But Wolof is not a written language, so everyone writes phonetically, and those who learned it in Senegal write it with a French accent. Boggling.
There's another group, in English, with 1,526 members, devoted to the classic tomato-and-garlic-based rice dish found throughout West Africa, Jollof rice (that French accent writes Jollof, says Wolof): Jollof Rice Lovers. The Jollof rice recipe page has only one version, but you can't see it or any of these Wolof links if you're not a member of Facebook.
How does that feel?
Historically, walls on the open Web don't last. Prodigy and AOL ain't what they used to be. (Prodigy ain't, period.)
The groups I saw would work better as Web sites running nimble interactive interfaces that would make it easy to illustrate your typing with stuff -- whatever it takes to show and tell it all.
Google turns up a passel of Jollof rice recipes elsewhere. I know some other Wolof speakers who won't be found on Facebook, but they might find their way via search engine to a self-selecting community of interest.
(I've been playing with building a free Ning network devoted to just such a community. It's not social -- don't care who you are or what you're doing, just what you have to say or show about the topic. When/if it happens I'll let you know. You're all invited.)
There's a Facebook backlash in the blogosphere now, from many angles.
Jason Calcanis is too popular there. Last week he rightly ranted that clicking to accept all this attention is ... just clicking: "You spend so much time checking off what you'll do that you never do anything. ". The image at right shows the requests that awaited him as he wrote. (After that post, everybody wants to be his friend.)
The act of trying to befriend strangers on Facebook for the purpose of pursuing sales or other business “opportunities”
-- Arve Bersvendsen
Howard Dean Sent Me a Message on Facebook?. Micah Sifry meets a political avatar.
So, this afternoon I got an email reading, "Howard Dean sent you a message on Facebook." (This is after I decided to accept his friend invitation yesterday.) Well, it wasn't really from Dean. What I did get was an email from the person who is paid to "be" Howard Dean on Facebook, or rather, one of the staffers behind his profile, Stephanie Taylor, the managing editor of Democrats.org...It is absolutely true that an organization like the Democratic Party needs to have a presence wherever large numbers of people congregate (can you imagine the Ds, or the Rs, with a table at a ball park, by the way?), but does it really work make sense for them to do it through a fictional character called Howard Dean who is really run by a committee of staffers?
Doc Searls headlines his mention of this, Not your friend, but a remarkably unable simulation.
Shelley Powers is not bothered by imposters, but by The Ugly Face of Facebook -- the "bias and bigotry in Facebook against older people." With examples.
another reason I lost interest in Facebook, other than my disinterest in the distraction, had to do with the recent story about Facebook and Zukerberg being sued because another company says he stole their code and concept. The suit is still ongoing and who is to say whether it has merit or not. But one thing I noticed among the Facebook fans is that they were less interested in the merits behind the suit–the possibility that the code and idea may have been stolen–and more concerned about losing their special place and that harm could come to their 'hero'. They were completely apathetic about whether Zukerberg stole the code or not. If the courts ruled he did, as long as they still have their 'special place', they would be indifferent to the finding and Zukerberg would still be their 'hero'.
Creepiest of all, I learned, from Shelley's link to when everything new is old again at Small Change, that "you can’t delete your account on Facebook, only deactivate it. "
So I've been captured, for all eternity, or as long as the member list is archived, whichever comes first.
Posted by Sheila Lennon at 2:28 AM | Permalink
I like the option to poke somebody. Oh the differences between British English and American English. :)
Posted by: adekun on July 31, 2007 10:55 PM