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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
WTFacebook? 
15th-Dec-2008 10:44 pm
dogcow moof!
Even though I've been on the Internet for more than half my life and on the web for three quarters of its, I have some significant new tech and Web 2.0 luddite streaks. I don't have a cell phone, for instance, though that's as much because I don't want to pay lots of money to deal with the phone company's shenanigans as it is because I don't want to use the phone when I'm taking a hike.

I'm not on MySpace for pretty simple reasons: The site looks like all the amateur web designers from 1996 threw a huge party, got smashing drunk, and threw up all over my web browser. It's like Geocities got a whole bunch of money for a class reunion but still held it in the school gym. I may not be gung ho for every new netfad, but I have no nostalgia for mid-90s web design.

Facebook is another Web 2.0 phenomenon I haven't participated in, much to mollybzz's distance scrabble dismay. The site has struck me as a lot more professional than MySpace and it's probably got more of my friends from the past as users. But a few things bug me about Facebook:
  • People's profiles are mostly private by default. I've occasionally googled a name and found a completely uninformative Facebook page. At least a visit to MySpace can tell you if you've got the right person. As a non-impulsive consumer, I like to have a sense of a product or service before I sign up. For instance, I get the sense that a lot of Facebook posts aren't very insightful, but it's possible people I know put more thought into their content. But the site doesn't make it easy for me to figure that out.
  • As a result, most of what I know about Facebook is by reputation. And it hasn't done a very good job of maintaining that.
  • Nine months ago or so, all I knew about Facebook was that you could play Scrabble and you got lots of random undesired bits of marketing thrown in your face. I think that was when they were trying their "Broadcast to everyone what you just bought on Amazon even if it's How To Deal With A Venereal Disease or a present you were going to surprise your girlfriend with. Signing up for in-your-face advertising didn't sound fun.
  • I hear they realized the error of their ways on that one and made it opt-in. I also heard Facebook played an important role in getting people excited about and involved with the Obama campaign. So that's good and sociologically interesting, at least.
  • But even with in-your-face ads and automatic broadcasting of private activities gone, I'm not particularly excited about their approach to privacy. When they sign up, they ask for your passwords to web mail and instant messenger services. They then proceed to spam the people in your address book. (I hear you get to select who gets spammed, but it's still very impersonal spam.) Even if Facebook's address book combing is implemented perfectly and hasn't ever had a security breach, telling random Internet users that it's okay to give your password to third parties is bad virtual citizenship. If, when you joined a gym, somebody said "Can I have the keys to your house so I can look through your rolodex and phone all your friends," most people would say "Are you crazy?" But the majority intuition about cybersafety isn't very acute yet, so major players on the web have a duty to foster (or at least not undermine) good habits of online behavior.
  • This evening, I received an automatic Facebook invite (subject: "Check out my Facebook profile") from someone I know a little. I'm not a very popular person, so this is like my third ever. No biggie. Then within the course of three hours I got four messages from Facebook with the subject "XYZ has added you as a friend on Facebook..." Huh? Did Facebook broadcast who had found me in their address book? These messages give a very odd sense of privacy invasion and I haven't even given them any yet. Is Facebook going to be this annoying when I'm an actual user? Why would I sign up for that?
In Facebook's defense, I've gotten more annoying messages from other Web 2.0 sites. Somebody I'd had a brief argument with on a Dragonfest mailing list added me to her combination-blog-and-mass-mail site so I got a bunch of essays written by someone I didn't find interesting on topics I didn't care about. And some kid in Utah signed up for MySpace with my GMail address (which had not yet appeared in spiderable locations), so I got a bunch of unsolicited friend requests from sketchy groups. Something similar happened with some high school sports website, so I periodically got mail inviting me to vote in polls about Friday night football and stuff.

Am I wrong about Facebook? Is it totally awesome and it's just got a misleading representation? Would it provide significant value to someone like me? I've already got a blog and a website. I'm the first hit on Google for "Trevor Stone" and I'm on the first page for "trevor new vista boulder," so anyone who really wants to find me can do so easily. I don't feel the need to share the minutia of my life (do you really care that I ate leftover curry bratwurst tonight?), and when I have something substantial to say I tend to spend half an hour writing a post. So other than distance Scrabble, why is Facebook popular?
Comments 
16th-Dec-2008 06:00 am (UTC)
I have a facebook account which I created about a year ago, I suppose. At that time, I was looking for a social networking site other than livejournal and chose facebook because it seemed more "adult" than myspace. Myspace seemed too high-school-ey to me.

Once I got on facebook, I added a dozen folks I knew from here or there. I started getting "naughty gifts" from people I knew. Next thing I knew, people were trying to make me a vampire, a zombie, and I had someone disappointed in my lack of interest in online scrabble.

I mostly have my facebook being ignored. I really don't get the hype. About the only compelling thing I ever saw on any social networking site was on tribe.net where you can find the map of degrees of seperation between you and just about anyone else.
16th-Dec-2008 06:23 am (UTC)
It is an easy way for me to keep in touch with people who live far away. I am not good at remembering to email and for some reason it works better for me. Mostly I just use it to talk and it's good for inviting people to events. But I'm pretty sure you can live without it.
16th-Dec-2008 06:25 am (UTC)
I am on there for some practical personal reasons like networking and building stronger rapport with my own theatre company and with other theatre companies in the area, staying clued-in to events in the area, &c. Once I started using it for that, I discovered that the status updates and wall comments are a fun little diversion, but I have systematically rejected and blocked all of the little 'applications' that people have sent me shit through -- they have all felt like various ways of getting me to pretend like I'm playing a game when really I'm just giving advertisers a direct line onto my browser window, and I don't enjoy that.
16th-Dec-2008 07:50 am (UTC)
I dunno if it would be useful for you, but I rarely find it annoying. Yes, sometimes friends will invite me to the stupid vampire, zombie, birthday, garden, etc. applications, but some of the applications are fun. What I like about Facebook is the ability to keep track of people who are far away. I like that it tells me when people's birthdays are. I also like being able to join groups and get updates about things of which I am a fan (like the Daily Show tells me about something new every so often).
16th-Dec-2008 08:17 am (UTC) - I don't get it, too
Admittedly, I am a technotard, and possibly paranoid (through experience with our loving government).

My family doesn't seem interested in livejournal, but they're all on Facebook, so I eventually gave in and signed up. I do like the one-liner updates that let me know what my family and friends are doing. Never hurts to know that Lee is in Vegas, Paul is getting married in 11 days, Ann just graduated, and my former step-daughter has changed her reported relationship status.

The little graphic doo-hickeys (woodland, plants, pathogens) people send, and things like "Nnnn sent you a hug" or "good karma" or "nominated you for sexiest person on the internet"...I have no idea what possible use there is in those. My brother has sent me numerous invitations to play a game that I have looked at and haven't the faintest idea what it is. But then, I'm not an online gamer.

I don't like the screen that has me give permission to share all my info any time I access any of those applications. I don't know who these people are!

If I were in the government and I wanted a database which would give me many photos of any given person (it encourages you to put names to pictures), along with the names of their relatives and friends, their home town, birth date, an outline of their interests, etc., I could not do better than inventing Facebook and having the population of this country create and maintain that database for me. If I put my real information up there, I'm info-naked. If I put up fake information, nobody will be able to find me. (And Clarsa McElhaney not only has her own name, she has a birth date slightly different from mine -- but it seems weird to have my friends put the wrong birth date for me on their calendars.)

If you figure it out, let me know.
16th-Dec-2008 09:49 am (UTC)
I actually do feel more connected to people with Facebook. These trivial little status updates mean nothing on their own, but they add up. Someone CONSTANTLY talking about what he ate the night before is probably a foodie. I've watched my husband's cousin train for a marathon via her facebook status updates. I just found out that one of my classmates went to Kauai that way. It's no substitute for picking up a phone and calling someone, but that sort of stuff helps us stay in touch with what we're doing in life when the alternative is nothing.

Also, people post interesting links regularly.
16th-Dec-2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
I think this is the main reason I like Facebook. If livejournal or other forums are like conversations at a party, facebook is like walking through a hallway- it makes me feel connected to people because of all the frequent little surface-level casual interactions. And sometimes it reminds me that people I'd like to see actually work in the building next to mine, and I wind up seeing them in person when I otherwise wouldn't have.

I did not give it access to my IM or my address book, and didn't put my IM name on there. Besides your e-mail address you can choose what you give them. Although if you're not very internet literate, like my mom, you might not realize this and wind up spamming everyone.

Sometimes I get a little worried about the amount of information on there, and, like you, I'm easy to find via google. But overall I wind up keeping it.
16th-Dec-2008 10:49 am (UTC) - the obvious facebook defense u were expecting...
1.Privacy: Facebook would probably defend it as a privacy issue to display, somebody's profile details unless you are their friend...infact even registering is not enough to fully see somebody's profile.....
2.Reputation: The reputation may not be great..but I still recommend a tryout... but am not sure they do have the delete profile option..... So it is a worthless recommendation as such..
3.Password: I am totally with you on this regard...........Did not realize the seriousness of the address book disclosure to every single site i registered with, till i started getting irritating mails of who's birthday, and who is where and blah blah blah etc... As a matter of fact it has been a year since i stopped but still once in a while some mails endup irritating me..... so gotta say i learnt it the hard way...

To conclude may be it is pointless and useless for you..................but still popular because i can still keep in touch with a friend who went to texas, while am in india........ Considering the cost of ISD calls........ :P
16th-Dec-2008 10:55 am (UTC) - Re: the obvious facebook defense u were expecting...

.but I still recommend a tryout... but am not sure they do have the delete profile option
Sorry just did a check and facebook does have the option of deleting your account information, though how and when they would do it ?? and how cleanly i do not know...
16th-Dec-2008 12:41 pm (UTC)
Well, you mentioned Scrabble now known as Wordscraper since they got sued by whoever makes Scrabble. You can modify your own boards that lead to ridiculously high scoring and unbalanced games when you have a 5W tile.

You also have challenge Sudoku, a couple of competitive version of boggles. Something like that Yahoo! game with the worm that had you pick out words and eliminate them that has a challenge version.

You also have a lot of pointless games like people trying to turn you into Zombies and Vampires or Superpoking you and sending you Hatching Eggs. Though these games are admittedly dumb and repetitive, and the ultimate point to some of them is to recruit all your friends, I have enjoyed the my Farm one that lets you have animals, trees, and crops that you harvest every few days. Living in the city, I have open space/yard envy.

The best part has been the pictures that people upload, and the snarky comments that I make about their one-line updates or their pictures.
17th-Dec-2008 05:20 am (UTC)
I'm a short attention span person, so the quick updates on Facebook are handy, and the photo-posting interface is a lot better than MySpace or Photobucket.

I don't know that I could "sell" it to somebody who knows as much about the technology and internet as you do, but I don't think that's who it's for. And I keep vaguely in touch with a ton of people I hadn't talked to in years (mostly people I went to HS/college with) because Facebook made it easy enough for them to find me, or vice versa.

(MySpace also just added a "people you may know" function, which is one of Facebook's biggest appeals I think)
18th-Dec-2008 09:04 am (UTC)
I have to admit i am mostly right there with you, hell I don't even give live journal its proper attention, i commonly laugh a little inside when i look at my phone and see all that wasted tech that i will never use. My face book account is even more neglected than this one, its sad really. Ultimately i feel like some sort of new wave Luddite, i like my tech no but any future stuff nah. Or maybe I am just getting older? (I certainly can ramble like it.)
18th-Dec-2008 09:05 am (UTC)
I also despise text messaging on my phone.
19th-Dec-2008 05:07 am (UTC)
My short answer would be that the content is segmented and it's relatively easy to opt-out of content you're not interested in. One of the reasons I don't read LJ faithfully is that the signal-to-noise ratio is too high.
20th-Dec-2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Er... are you saying you don't read LJ because it has a much higher percentage of thoughtful content and you need more fluff to stay stimulated? (That's how I parse "the signal-to-noise ratio is too high.) Or did you mean the reverse -- that you prefer high signal-to-noise and Facebook provides it where LJ doesn't?

I suspect this factor is largely dependent upon who your friends are. LJ friends that mostly post quizzes end up on a different filter that I don't read regularly, so my LJ friends list is almost entirely signal plus LOL cats.
20th-Dec-2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Nope, I'm saying quite the opposite. There has been a sharp increase in the noise on LJ, at least in my friends-space. Nowadays, most of the posts I skim -- I can hardly say read any more -- on LJ tend to be long, detailed descriptions about whatever minor drama is going on in people lives. The trouble is, that drama never seems to stop!

So, I end up skimming pages of entries, looking for meaningful entries like a friend's recent seizure. And increasingly, I find that I can be away for long periods of time and not miss anything.

Facebook, on the other hand, has a few things going for it:
1) Status updates are constrained to be short, so the process of catching up is much quicker
2) Its integrated services, like pictures with the ability to tag users, allow users to connect in a variety of ways.

In order to effectively use LJ, I think it takes a time commitment that I'm increasingly reticent to make.

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