Facebook sucks?

It is wrong to think that following your friends online will introduce you to new ideas, opportunities and information. However, if you spend the same amount of time reading other people ideas but following a certain topic that interest you. This will probably expose you to more information, viewpoints, ideas, etc..

Curiosity killed the cat!

I don't know were did the above proverb come from. But I know how curiosity came to exist. It could be defined as the motivation to explore or examine. Curiosity is a hard wired innate behavior in many animals including invertebrates like fish. It is an instinct that probably increases our chances of survival. Simply by increasing our chances of getting food and/or sex. It is also important for learning and

development.

So a cat sniffing a small object, then either trying a small bite at it or leaving it afterwards, is out of curiosity. A kid throwing solid objects at a glass door several times and trying to understand why things don't pass through, is also out of curiosity.

There is nothing really new in what I have just said. Almost common sense.

Having developed out of a primordial soup that existed by the physical forces that were just a side effect to the accidental bad joke and entirely purposeless big bang. I propose, people join Facebook to get connected to other people to increase their chances of getting their sperm or ova join a biological procedure called fertilization, which is important for our genes to propagate.

So this is the subconscious reason then? Well, sort of but this doesn't explain things properly?

Psychological pressures

You see, I was curious to look around facebook so I could dismiss it and continue to play with my favourite web 2.0 toys; [twitter|http://twitter.com], [zooomr|http://zooomr.com], [del.icio.us|], [this blog|] and [Gmail|http://gmail.com].

Facebook is a closed network, it is like a fortress, people outside it couldn't see what people inside are doing. But people on the outside know the existence of the thing and they occasionally get a glimpse of something related to what is happening in the inside. Plus the whole village occasionally mentions Facebook with a sort of `controversy'. This actually makes Facebook more attractive and motivating for people to join.

By the time you have already joined Facebook, you have already spent time putting information adding friends and you have now access to information about your friends. Now this is something that is hard to give up on.

Conformity is very powerful.

We are interested in ourselves and the people close to us. It is extremely interesting for us to know where we are in relation to people we know. It is in our culture, ''where are we and where our friends are?''. ''Where are we and when will the polar ice caps melt?'' is not an important issue.

Social computing

I think my reactance to being a proper Facebook netizen is valid. And strengthened by many disadvantages in this network.

The idea that software helps you find like-minded individuals or people who share your interests or could inspire you is far more superior than simply adding all your acquaintances in a friend list and following their news. Software that serve a single function, like del.icio.us, last.fm, flickr, Zooomr, Wikipedia and have some means to find other users with similar interests offer a better main service.

It is also the context which blogs, flickr, wikipedia and other networks played in the short lifetime of the WWW is important and I am not sure that Facebook (or Second-Life) has any role in shaping the web.

Here is a quick comparison out of my head without making a detailed comparison:

  • Facebook is not a proper image sharing and storage service. I don't think facebook will accept huge unlimited amounts of photos like Zooomr, nor does it bring together people interested in photography like Flickr groups. Google, Yahoo and other search services can't reach your photos. Your photos are still locked in the facebook network and inaccessible to other people.
  • Facebook is not a blog. There is a notes section, but still, you don't have a permalink for your posts or others (so you can't link to other people's post, disabling the conversational style and linking that is very common in blogs) and search services can't access what you say. What you say is locked in the facebook network and inaccessible to other people.
  • Facebook is not a mailing list. The google groups service and Yahoo! mailing lists are much more feature rich and could be set to be accessible to the whole www. And you can archive the emails you send and receive on your own hard drive. Still, facebook groups are not open for other people in the world to join and learn from. Locked in the facebook network and inaccessible to other people.
  • Facebook is not a calendar application. [30boxes|http://30boxes.com] and [Google calendar|http://calendar.google.com] do a better job.
  • Facebook is not email. Just because each contact of yours has a nice page with a photo compared to his listing in your address-book application, doesn't mean that you suddenly have to send him a "hello I miss you" BS!
  • Facebook is not a [generic large scale message routing application|http://twitter.com/blog/2007/04/new-york-times-on-911.html] like twitter. The status messages on facebook are not sent over other networks like, SMS (the whole freaking world) or IM and is still locked in the network inaccessible to others.

Simply, facebook is just a reincarnation of [Orkut|http://orkut.com], [Hi5|http://hi5.com] and the same old fucked up concept of closed social networks that demonstrate nothing but it is a [small world after all(tm)|http://disneyland.disney.go.com/disneyland/en_US/parks/attractions/detail?name=itsasmallworldAttractionPage&bhcp=1] [phenomonon|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_world_phenomenon]. People are all excited about it, because of the social pressures I discussed above. It is only a way for people to express their vanity online.

It is also very wrong to think that bringing back social ties with old friends and current friends will introduce you to new ideas, opportunities and the like. Spending time following the breadcrumbs of your friends will mean that you will end up getting all your information and ideas from just your friends. On the contrary if you spend more time on larger networks (like bloggers or photographers on flickr) with much weaker ties (topics of interest, tags) you will be exposed to more information, viewpoints, ideas, etc.. Such networks are not a form of reconciliation either. I am not going to add my friends list the people I hate and others who think I am an enemy will not add me.

In the end the power of a social network is a value driven by the people in it. And the amount of work to build communities, share information and organize activities with it. It is just disappointing to see people joining something closed, that is not inventive and crippled.

And I have way to much time to bash facebook!