Facebook has bubbled up to the front of my thoughts again. Partly this is reflecting on the effect of gathering my public stuff onto my own site. Partly, it’s ruminating on the implications of ‘friending’ people I naturally drifted away from at secondary school. Partly, it’s reeling (see the alliteration there? clever, eh?) from reading about an old friend resigning from Facebook.
I knew he was resigning from Facebook because I get a feed from his blog. There’s a lesson here.
Before Myspace, Facebook and the squillion other social sites out there, there were these things called ‘blogs’ where people could tell interested parties about things they’d seen or experienced. They were often embedded into ‘home pages’ which could also feature galleries and links to friends’ home pages with similar content. Things were made easier when RSS feeds became popular and you could see a stream of your friends (or even admired strangers!) output. If you were just interested in photos then you could subscribe to that. If you wanted anonymity then you’d generally start an anonymous blog or use passwords.
However, I understand the logistics for this arrangement put them beyond bothered range for the majority. Facebook got big because it packaged up a bunch of these features and made them trivial to use. The problem is loss of control. I’m getting bitten by zombies, asked random questions and compared to my friends. Every time someone adds another pointless application, I get notified. Whether I like it or not.
Facebook mails me whenever someone writes on my wall. But I have to go and log in to read it. This feels to me like getting a note through the door to let me know that there’s a message for me at the post office. The message is written on the post office wall so I can’t take it away.
Facebook has good reason to do this: it needs me to visit the site and click on adverts. It needs me to invest my gallery, notes and wall posts into it’s site so I never, ever leave. It needs me to receive application notifications to stimulate the development of free extensions to its platform. Somewhat like the webmail provider that doesn’t provide free POP access, it’s acting in it’s own interests at the expense of mine.
I’m sticking with it for the time being thanks to the occasional nugget it turn up. However, I now rate it ‘Necessary Evil’ which is kind of dangerous since it sits right next to ‘Unnecessary Evil’.