This reminds me of a comment that we almost always get on HN when Facebook comes up, and its almost always right: it's not for you. If you want Bcc, it's not for you. The millions of people who are younger than you don't think to CC, let alone BCC. They want to communicate, and they want to do it now, and email is just that formal thing Dad uses. That's their terms, and Facebook gives it to them.
The author also discounts Facebook as being some sort of Neo-AOL. It is that, but where AOL faltered was being a completely walled garden. Facebook as a development platform, and, perhaps more importantly, an online identity to all sorts of other sites, makes Facebook use even more in-grained. I would love to see some stats from sites that allow Facebook Connect on how much their user registration went up. Facebook offers a portal, but also a wider identity, and they do it well.
If Facebook isn't for you, then that's that. But it doesn't mean what they're doing is wrong.
> The fact is Facebook isn’t made for someone like me, who once handrolled his own html code and then uploaded it using UNIX commands because he was excited to have his own Web site, and back in 1993 that’s how you did it.
> But again, also: Not really for me. I look at Facebook and what I mostly see are a bunch of seemingly arbitrary and annoying functionality choices.
And the very valid observation that FB wall is usually cluttered with senseless status updates and stupid game events from an otherwise intelligent people does not add any points, too.
But surely, seeing how well FB is doing for other people who don't want to learn all that complicated things to post pictures online, I give them credit. Just not 50B of it :)
FB will never become the new Internet, and probably will never even become Internet's identity DB. See interviews with Mark where he tries to reply to a direct question whether or not he understands what kind of responsibility he gets with owning 500mil user records. He has no idea. I foresee a horrendous crash of trust. Hope I'm wrong.
The biggest problem, for me, is that who can see these things is not up to only those involved in the conversation. It hardly even matters what the exact effect is of the rules currently in place, since they could change at any time. The rules on who can see my email inbox don't change. (I think this was what really upset people about Google Buzz: suddenly the rules around who could see what changed, making everyone on gmail who cares about that sort of thing insecure about their own email.)
I know a lot of people. I don't have an account on FB. Absolutely zero % of the people I know have stopped talking to me even though 95% of them all have an account.
I trust FB far less than any site online.
Fun Fact: pretty much every other social network, HI5, Tagged, MySpace etc. were all started by spammers. Friendster and FB were just started by douchebags.
The internet is meant to be decentralized. I use Mail Service X, you use Y, maybe one of us runs our own mail server. Doesn't matter. A common protocol makes it work. If my mail server dies or your service goes offline, any emails we've sent still live on the remaining server.
If we want private communications, we can encrypt our messages. If we want to use email as an API, we can. We can receive and parse and archive to our hearts' content.
When FB owns both ends, owns the servers, controls the features, and keeps the data, we communicate at their pleasure. If they want to scrape for political keywords or decline to deliver messages about banana bread, they can. If they want to delete your messages, they can. If they want to forward your messages to advertisers, they can.
"So what?" people say. "Gmail scans your messages and shows ads." True. But if I'm ever uncomfortable, I can switch to any email provider I want, or set up my own server.
If John and I both use Gmail, I can leave Gmail and still stay in touch with him. But if John and I both use Facebook, I can't leave Facebook without losing the ability to message him. If everyone I know is like John, leaving Facebook is voluntary exile, and nobody wants to do it first.
The internet is meant to be decentralized. For many people, FB is taking over the internet.
That's why I don't like FB.
They should just give users @facebook.com email addresses and put in a webmail UI.
Look, in VERSION 2 we added NEW features to our messaging platform that you all have known and loved for YEARS! In fact! since the freaking invention of email!
Also, given that the creator of gmail has joined FB, wouldn't he have said "uh, guys - I think we forgot something. guys??"
The lack of bcc leads to different usage patterns and can be thought of as a feature itself. It leads to more explicit communication. It means the recipients are exactly the ones who are clearly listed.
More generally, Facebook is bigger than the sum of its parts because of the social behavior that emerges there. Enabling this is what makes Facebook special.
reposted for emphasis, because this is the perfect one sentence rebuttal to that entire artic ... sorry ... rant.
But when my whole family is on facebook, and have stopped checking their email. Then yeah, it is for me too.
I thought his point was pretty clear: FB is rolling in cash and is the target of the latest 15-minute hype and 50 billion dollars of Goldman-Sachs paper valuation, but isn't really breaking new ground in providing the best possible platform for the Web, and he predicts that this will cause it to fail, like other non-ideal repackaging efforts in the past, because it is limited. And he has some experience in this, because he was an employee of AOL in the day.
And weirdly, here at HNN, of all places, I am witnessing a deluge of rabid Facebook fanboys, many of whom apparently think he's just an old fogie who doesn't understand the new generation. The world never ceases to amaze me.
EDIT: more words are always good, right?
1) Those who can't imagine the point of a messaging (or indeed, any) system that does not have all the bells and whistles you can imagine or get using another system.
2) Those that realise that most people only use a very small subset of those features, and that everything else is just a potential cause of confusion. So, offering a messaging system that "does a few things, but does them well" will be an attractive proposition for many people.
It seems that these two camps can't see each other's points of view. The author of the article seems to acknowledge 2 but keeps coming back to 1.
"more words are always good, right"
No. Less words to say the same thing are normally much better, the rest is just noise.
You are familiar with the concept of self-deprecating humor on your world, are you not?
1. Argh, I will finally join Facebook even though I hate it.
2. OMG, I cannot believe that Facebook does something a way that I don't like.
3. Facebook sucks, I am quitting. You should too, obviously.
And who is the author? I have no idea. But I do know from reading the article that he sounds bitter/jealous and a little bit clueless.
I'm not trying to make any claims about face book's virtue (as a future facebook engineer, I doubt I would have much credibility anyway), but it is unfair to be so dismissive about people who might argue that it isn't completely awful, when they certainly aren't just part of hn groupthink (as you seem to have suggested.)
The problem I see, and the point of my comment is that we truly aren't seeing too much that is new - but when a company comes along that is hyper successful and full of young talented engineers - people forget history.
That is fine - but I think people need to take a step back sometimes.
Point taken, however. (I'll take my own advice about taking a step back :) )
People use Facebook because they see past the "website" and read the content. They communicate with their friends and family. How many non-technical people have you ever heard complain about email apps? They don't because they use email to communicate, not to use an email app.
If the first thing you feel is "exasperation at the aggressive dimness of it UI and its functionality" then you need to find some new people to connect with so that you're actually interested in reading what they have to say.
I once saw one of those "Missing Manual" books for Facebook on the shelf and laughed. I wouldn't have laughed if it were for Blender or even for Word.
But then I realized: the reason I laughed is that Facebook is so simple to use that only an idiot couldn't figure it out. Nay, even many millions of idiots can figure it out.
For an application that complex, with that many features, that is quite an accolade indeed.
You should pick a better analogy. Every single non-technical person I know has complained about their email app. Usually it's some stupid Outlook/Exchange quirk...
hahahaha! You sure did make that guy eat his hat.
Calling other people stupid for not building and maintaining their own website strikes as bit elitist, just as saying that people that don't design and build their own houses are lazy. We specialize.
To him it is easy / fun / rewarding to build his own blog, photo sharing, thingamabob. Sure, it has been for me too in the past. But it isn't anymore, especially because Facebook wins on the front of notifying my friends of things of mine they might find interesting.
In short, he is really missing the point, that Facebook has allowed millions upon millions of people to participate on the web in a way they couldn't before. Were they the first to try? No, but they are the first to do so so successfully across such a wide strata of users.
I also find it super ironic that he seems to think highly of Twitter (talk about lack of features!!) while gives Facebook a hard time for missing functionality. At least I can comment on 'status' messages on Facebook without changing my own status. :)
But I don't like that your snarky quip--which distorts the fact that the author continues to use facebook out of a sense of social obligation, and which I don't think adds much to the discussion--is the most upvoted comment here.
Sure, you can be cynical and mock the guy, but I'd rather see you address his arguments. I'm not so much annoyed that you took the obvious potshot, just disappointed that the rest of HN is currently voting this the most important takeaway from the essay.
"there’s very little Facebook does, either as
a technological platform or as a company, that doesn’t
remind me that “banal mediocrity” is apparently the
highest accolade one can aspire to at that particular organization."
It is really hard to make something look this easy.
He was criticizing the idea of Facebook. Facebook is a very well implemented system. But that doesn't mean that you can't question the validity of the system. Just because it's hard to build doesn't mean that it is worthwhile to use.
He doesn't even bother to substantiate many of his claims ... (Facebook's UI sucks ... word?). As such the highly upvoted in-kind response, shouldn't be a surprise.
A true badass send his emails using a telnet connection to the smtp server.
Bonus points for using a HP-48GX instead of a TI-85.
Don't dislike him because he likes vanilla whereas everyone else likes raspberry.
So the guy who created Orkut must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Too bad for him. His Google stock probably only made him a millionaire. Totally uncool.
Plus Zuckerberg's massive anti-privacy bias caused him to push the product in the right (superior product/market fit) direction in the face of significant user complaints (i.e. beacon).
And the speed at which facebook has been able to re-invent itself multiple times (e.g. platformization and twitterization) has been very impressive.
Just my .02
Just because things get simpler to use doesn't mean they are less sophisticated.
Then it dies down and everybody seems happy about Facebook.
Until a year later, HN is full of hate-posts again. So, if history is to repeat itself, I'd say that the hate will have died down by June and I'll get my hate-blogpost ready for next year, having missed this years Facebook-hating-season
Lots of ranting towards Facebook here of late, I must say.
Facebook is a great way of telling your friends that HTML5 has got a logo, for example. Also, this way your friends that arent on sites like linkedin will get an idea of what you're up to.
I'm sure people who are interested in programming and building webpages will go their own way in the end anyway.
Maybe I misunderstood this article and the previous about Facebook rants, in that case I apologize.
I strongly disagree with this. I might read HN and reddit for programming stories all day long but I still find Facebook immensely useful for keeping in contact with friends and contacts. I don't see at all how these things are mutually exclusive.
It's made for people who want to connect to other people. Intelligence has nothing to do with it.
Does Facebook do that? I get recommendations of people I might know, but I don't recall ever being told how many friends I should have.
I mean facebook had the same UI/policies/uglyness since quite some time, why sudden surge of facebook-bashing articles (followed by google)? I wonder how much of the content from above articles was written genuinely and not with alterior motives.
I did make a cute graphic out of it, if you want it: http://jaysonelliot.com/blog/2009/06/13/what-does-facebook-r...
Facebook is incredibly innovative at growing its user base. No other social network has concentrated on and succeeded at this like Facebook.
> Its grasping attempts to get its hooks into every single thing I do feels like being groped by an overly obnoxious salesman.