Friday, March 12, 2010

Facebook, Buzz, and Openness

I'm still not sure how to use this web journal thingy. I'm currently using it mostly as a random picture and comment uploader. I also occasionally use it to tests embedding Wave's, with the goal of writing ONE post, and having it appear in my Wave feed, my email feed, my Facebook, my Buzz, my Twitter, my whatever the hell all else. If a friend from one place comments, the comment is visible on all.

Which is why I'm loathe to write this here. I already made a post on FB, and writing the same thing here or on Wave or anywhere else suddenly splits the conversation threads in half, or into quarters, or worse. Oh well. I'll figure out the Wave Hosted Conversation thing later. For now, here's the posts:

(part 1) Facebook and Openness:

There are a lot of good things about FB, but one of the hugest *problems* is that it's not open. How often have you wanted to connect your FB updates and threads to your Wave account, or myspace page, or blog? How very very often have you wanted to link your FB pictures and your picasa/flikr/photobucket/whatever sites all in one place? Don't you hate having to upload everything individually or in small batches of 5 to FB, then manually tag every face in every picture, when you've ALREADY uploaded everything at once to picasa or flikr and those sites AUTOMATICALLY tagged all the faces for you at once?

However, FB isn't open. You can't do any of those things, because some fat executive guy twiddled his mustache and thought the old thought. The same thought MS lived by, the same one that the dieing phone companies are still clinging to with their divide-everything-up-and-charge-for-each-piece, charge-for-every-text, charge-for-every-little-minute: "the more we control them, the more money we can squeeze out of them."

Refusing openness is going down the evil empire path. You don't have to give your code to the world, that's your decision. But if the service you offer is to manage data for people (and that's what social sites are. Friend list data, picture data, status&conversation data), understand that that data belongs to the USERS, not to you. Keep that open or else die the same slow death the others are.

FB is locked down and hunkered in on itself, terrified that other wolves will come in and nibble away at even more of it's shrinking bit of territory. Like MS and Apple, they want their piece of the internet controlled completely by them. Stuff you post on there or pictures you upload belong to them, not you. It's their data, not yours.

If they wanna completely change the way FB looks even though it pisses you off and you can't find anything, they'll do it. If they wanna do the same thing AGAIN a couple months later, they'll do it again. If they want to stop you from connecting your FB stuff to all the stuff mentioned above, they'll do it.


(part 2) Facebook and Buzz and Openness:

I think people kind of missed the point of Buzz. The two big news pieces were: (1) zomg FB competition!, and (2) zomg privacy invasion!

On the 2nd part, that's what the horde says anytime google does anything. They actually do the same thing anytime facebook does anything also. I remember viral status updates about FB posting your profile and pics to public searches. As usual, it was over-exagerated, and if there WERE concerns, they were EASILY changeable by checking/unchecking one or two boxes in some settings screen.

For the 1st part: it's not so much that FB's a big noble thing and google's like "let's take them down and steal their moneys!". More importantly, it wasn't "let's make yet another faction in ppl's online social groups and make it harder for them to track everything in one place". Their plan is the *opposite* of that.

So here's the point of all this: Google's push is for openness, and for the idea that people own their internet data. I've mentioned before that there's an entire team at Google who's only job is to make sure that if you want to, you can move all your friends/calendar events/emails/docs/anything out of Google at any time, to any other place or program you want. And you can just as easily move stuff back IN to google from those same places.

Buzz or Wave will eventually kill FB if things stay as they are, but that wasn't the point of either. The point is to let people have a space where they can post pictures, post statuses, and have thread conversations while being able to connect those things to ANY parts of the rest of the web they want.

You're sick of having some friends on FB, some on myspace, some only in email, and now some in Buzz? Well so is everyone else. It's easy to snap at Buzz for this situation since it's the newest player, but it's not the cause. The problem is every player that refuses to talk to any of the other players. Bring on an internet where I post one status, upload one picture, and the tags and comments and threads tied to those things are visible on every site I use all over the internet. FB friends, email friends, twitter friends, unite! ;)