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All of life has been utterly, profoundly changed thanks to Facebook... (realdanlyons.com)
175 points by thedoctor on Sept 24, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments

The biggest irony in my opinion is the existance of the "mute" feature on facebook. I am not a FB user, but apparently, the more you share, the higher the likelihood of somebody muting you.

So in the end we will share everything with our friends, but our friends will only pretend to listen.

Technical solutions, such as the friend muting, can't solve cultural problems - of which Facebook has aplenty.

MySpace was destroyed by cultural problems. The technology wasn't at fault. If it was populated with HN-types, we'd see clean typography and beautiful blogs - not the epileptic-fit-causing profile pages that caused everyone to migrate to Facebook.

Culture is the difference between MySpace and Tumblr.

Building a community is everything. That's my thesis, at least.

The technology wasn't at fault.

Myspace could have survived myriad cultural problems on the strength of their once unparalleled social graph if they could have kept pace with Facebook's technology. Facebook had many things right - the news feed, valid identities, speed - that would have required Myspace to essentially start from scratch to even emulate. Myspace tried, but couldn't pull it off.

So my argument is that Facebook has room to experiment in areas where tastes may differ (i.e. culture) as long as they have great technology and an adaptable design. If the timeline/ticker turns out to be completely overwhelming and they see usage drop, Zuckerberg could practically issue an apology, flip a switch and basically turn Facebook back to yesterday's Facebook by Monday. As their experiences with failure (Beacon) and success (the news feed!) have shown, there's way more upside than downside.

Sometime try listing Tweets by geo proximity when you're downtown. The MySpace culture is alive, well, and on Twitter in numbers that far outweigh the "HN-types".

Twitter seems no worse for it, and a failure to cater to elitists wasn't MySpace's problem either. MySpace, AOL, Yahoo, HP -- their problems are cultural, but not their users' culture, their managements'.

Technical solutions, such as the friend muting, can't solve cultural problems - of which Facebook has aplenty.

Very, very true.

I would even expand on this. Problems people encounter online can be divided into technical, social (involving groups) and interpersonal. Problems from one category cannot be effectively solved via methods from another. Attempting to do so inevitably results in many undesirable side-effects.

No, the difference between MySpace and Tumblr is that the latter has a dashboard that gets rid of everyone's theme and by extension their autoplaying music, etc.

MySpace had a great community. The software was slow and ugly. Now it's faster and a little less ugly, but the community is gone.

So in the end we will share everything with our friends, but our friends will only pretend to listen.

It's not pretending if they've muted you, you're being ignored. Which is not a bad thing, noisewise, it natural and to be expected, but that's besides my point.

My point is that you will always have a default friend who wants to hear everything you share, a friend who will never mute you, never block your Zynga Blogville updates. No, it's not me, nor is it Tom Anderson; your default friend is Facebook itself. FB will always listen to you and will always want to know about everything you do.

I wonder how long it will be until Facebook itself can be called as your character witness? Not as mere physical evidence of things you've said or done, but an analysis of all of those events over time and the phychological profile that they imply.

That could be a new job - Facebook timeline analyzer. Snake oil or not, people would probably fall for it.

    "It's not pretending if they've muted you, you're being ignored."
But does FB tell you when somebody mutes you?


Thank God. I don't think my ego could handle it,

Now that you mention it - I always thought Google might be the first company to create real AI. Now I realize that Facebook might be in the game, too. Then it really could be your friend.

For me, the best way to use Facebook is to "mute" everyone. Family, friends--everyone.

It has the following advantages: - No one knows that I've muted them. - I'm still on Facebook, so if people need to contact me through that medium, they can still do it. - If I'm really curious about what anyone has been up to, I can still look at their page - No need to log to procrastinate because I never have any updates.

Kind of perfect, for me at least.

Yeah, one day I figured out that I'd already muted about half my "friends". Of the remainder, most never posted.

But the remaining folks are largely my real friends, so it all works out.

I understand the article is sarcastic, but let's look at what Facebook actually is doing for humanity: recording the individual histories of hundreds of millions of people. From a wide angle view, this is pretty significant.

Imagine if you had the capability of examining your great-great-grandfather's life at the daily level. How amazing would that be? To localize this, imagine yourself in your 80's being able to zoom to any day of your life at any point to relive and review how you thought, what you thought at that particular moment.

This is what I use Facebook for. Sure, I use it to connect with my friends, but I also use it so that when I'm knocking on death's door, I'll have something concrete to look back at that is more stable than my ailing memory will be. I'll also be able to hand it down to my spawn and their spawn.

I've always considered Facebook a new kind of public utility, just as revolutionary as the post office used to be.

In the old days people wrote diaries. That way they could choose whom to share their story with, they could burn them or they could hand them to their spawns.

I don't see how that is any different with the privacy settings in Facebook.

And I think it's superior to a diary in that it's not only recording my thoughts on something, but also the minutiae of my day to day, whom I've associated with and my interactions with them, etc.

I'm a little surprised at the responses my original post received actually. Am I the only one that uses Facebook for this purpose?

the likelihood is far higher, however, that in just 20 years time all the history you've entered into facebook will be gone. Not sure facebook see themselves as a public service, and I'm very sure they're not inclined to spend huge amounts of money archiving terabytes of dead people's data indefinitely

20 years ago, a 40MB hard drive was "standard". I'm sure they'll go the way of the floppy in 20 years.

The storage situation in 2031 would be pretty mind boggling.

20 years ago a 40MB hdd was sufficient. 20 years ago, a 486 was more than capable of running Windows 3.1 or OS2 and playing great games.

20 years on, and nothing's changed. I still need a modern spec machine to run an OS or read a word doc. My drive is still almost full. My machine is still not quie fast enough and my internet is too slow

Expectations change. Sure, in 20 years time the data we're creating now will seem like such a tiny amount, but that amount won't stay constant. The amount of data we produce each year is a proportion of available storage, not of our activity.

What I'm trying to say is that facebook have a lot of data by today's standards, but they'll also have a lot of data in 2031 by 2031's standards.

tough call. i exchanged speed for quantity with my ssd. i sort of suspect most people are going to do the same. I think it depends on how many T of video people want to hang on to.

Sure storage will get bigger and faster, but just like cpus, the transition from quantity & speed to energy efficiency will happen sooner than you're implying.

Why do you think Facebook will still exist by the time you die? If you want to keep your data for an extended period of time, it would probably be better to do it yourself.

You can download all of your data from facebook now. It's a link at the bottom of your account settings. Only thing of importance missing is your comments you left on other's status updates. To think if Facebook bit the dust that someone else wouldn't do something with that data is almost unthinkable at this point.

> let's look at what Facebook actually is doing for humanity: recording the individual histories of hundreds of millions of people.

And selling the data to advertisers.

Are the timelines public, or friends only? If they are friends only, I hope my great-great-grandfather could befriend me from the grave somehow.

Wow. Just wow. :/

Why the long face?

Reading this article was very very painful... and honestly, everyone here is hitting the nail on the head - they are just exposing how much info they are collecting about people. Facebook is the next Experian/TransUnion/Equifax. In the past (I worked in corp. security and investigations) you had to go to ChoicePoint and have law enforcement-like credentials to get a good background profile and picture of someone else. As more and more of this info is aggregated by Facebook, investigators will go to them for a much richer profile that could have ever hoped for.

Onion really has a great parody of this: http://www.theonion.com/video/cias-facebook-program-dramatic...

My gut is that this is just a trend right now. Eventually people will pull back once it gets old. And trust me, things get old. Remember chat? Everybody was crazy about it. There have been many trends that have gotten old too. Just like in fashion,music,video, trends change.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Chat isn't "old", its just taken for granted now. What's more likely is that sharing every bit of irrelevant data about your life will go the way of chat, in that it becomes so commonplace that isn't not even thought about anymore.

I think the parent was referring to anonymous chat rooms like MSN. Those don't really exist now, yet they were extremely popular fifteen years ago.

Yes, I was referring to anonymous chat rooms.

And no one's "pulled back" from chat. Now its ubiquitous and how many of us conduct all communication at work and much of personal communication.

Are you talking about chat or instant messaging? Those two are different in my view. We use IMs a lot at work. Probably even more than email. Chats get created every now and again, but realistically, it's much less used than IM.

The only place I see chat as really being useful, is for support on websites and applications. However, again it's mostly one-to-one, so it's basically a temporary IM.

I think Facebook's new features are good. They made me realize how much of my old crap (status updates, comments, etc) Facebook has stored. So I deleted everything older than one month, using the new Activity Log view and some Selenium scripts.

I'm sure you didn't delete those. You only hid them from the timeline. There's a huge difference.

I have hid many the old stuff too, but sometimes, especially with timeline transition, few old items kept popping up and wouldn't hide until fifth or so times clicking the hide button.

I didn't hide them, I clicked "Remove Post", "Remove Comment" etc. for each. Of course, Facebook probably archives them somewhere anyway.

I did the same thing. Delete everything. Although, some actions you can only "hide", like comments on other people's walls and such. At least that's my understanding.

For what it's worth, I routinely delete status updates and have never had one come back in a redesign. Other activity might not be as fortunate.

Same experience, i think they delete nothing at all.

I did the same for my posts and photos, except it was the final act BEFORE i deleted my Facebook profile 3 months ago.

Its not like i trust Facebook to honour the deletes, but one must try one's best.

I'm sorry, but I feel I need to ask: am I alone in not using Facebook since graduating college? Every time I see an article, every time I watch the news, I get the impression that Facebook has somehow weaved itself into our daily lives, yet the only times I think of Facebook is when someone posts an article like this on HN (and yes I'm aware the article is sarcastic, but there are many more articles which are serious)

Remember that Facebook started out being available only at US colleges, and the users that got in then will have different usage patterns than those of us that got in later when it was generally available. My friends on Facebook are real friends, family, coworkers, and classmates from high school and university, so it's not just a subset of people I want to stay in touch with, it's pretty much all of them.

I'm in that same boat...

Funny. I just disabled my account this week and don't have plans to go back. Facebook never made much of an impact on my life and I've finally decided the loss of privacy is no longer worth staying on.

Edit: Now after having read the post I realize it is sarcastic. So maybe I'm not so different after all.

I found out my blatantly fake account was disabled this week, after more than a year of using it. Oh well, (almost) nothing of value was lost. Wondering if I can make a new one (also fake, of course) with the same email.. probably not I'd guess.

I tried this too, but got pulled back from all the websites and apps that need Facebook logins.

Interesting. I have a fake Facebook account, but I never like or recommend anything using any of the Facebook tools on every website these days. I've bee using the same account for years and all the information is completely inaccurate.

I'm wondering how much longer I can go before I get cut off.

...more so for the people who collect user's personal data. Funny, I haven't had that many telemarkerters since FB. Yes, we are all that much more connected (whatever that means; I don't use FB at all so I wouldn't know), but there must be a better way than to dump our personal lives into servers 'out there'. I hope 'profoundly changed' means that it has taught some of us to think twice before we give out our personal data. Startups around FB have benefited from its existence, so I should balance my comments with some positives. A debatable issue that will surely continue...

I have no problem with Facebook or how they monetize their business but I know the average user aren't aware of it and they should be.

What I also I hope is that algorithms get better so it can know how a photo, video or post should be shared so the user won't have to think about it.

Prediction: Lyons will soon start a "Fake Mark" account.

The best way to deal with this new 'release' is to just ignore it. Can't believe the amount of attention this has garnered. We all need to wake up.

Is this funny? Seems a bit pointless to me, but maybe no more so than any of the other schlock people are writing about FB these days.

Yes, it is. The blog seems to be The Onion of the tech world.

You are discrediting The Onion. They have eerily posted articles that have later come to fruition.

It's by the guy who used to do the Fake Steve Jobs.

and that url is huge

"Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life."

No thanks.

Even though sarcastic and well-played this is just more hype. It should not be encouraged.

If this keeps happening, you'll start asking someone about their early life and they'll just suggest you add them on Facebook and read about it yourself.

I had a similar experience talking to a friend who had just started blogging. We hit a discussion point he had apparently already covered and if I just read it instead of talking...

Facebook should just be there to remind you of people's birthdays, but it doesn't really do that very well either.

is this guy tripping or what? facebook extended a few features (eg. not just liking, but reading and eating and whatever) and introduced timeline, which is gonna be quite creepy for all those very active facebookers out there. seriously, what's the big deal?

If I'm not mistaken, the linked article employs the rhetorical device known as sarcasm.

The point being that Timeline is not, in fact, a world-changing feature.

dang, you're right

Did you even read the whole article? It has a sarcastic tone.

And fairly well done, as the first few paragraphs have you thinking he's being straight.

"All of life has been utterly, profoundly changed thanks to Facebook..."

Ummmm...not mine. I use it sometimes but total posts under a dozen. Google knows way more than FB about me but that's changing little by little.

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