- have an unextensible UI
- have a terrible internal search mechanism
- have a flat social networking model
- have nearly zero internal structure for real dynamic communication
- include no safeguards for spamming
- include no safeguards for privacy
Sounds like a recipe for disaster? Sounds like Facebook.
A few months back I attended the Facebook OS launch party in San Francisco. The atmosphere was intense. Everyone was running around celebrating this new launch of this exciting new OS. Sort of.
At the time I remarked to those I was there with that it seemed desperate. The atmosphere was one of intense desperation. I'd imagine it was like the launch party for a remarkably boring car - people running around saying "It's 20% less ugly than our previous one!"
But, at the heart of Facebook's OS launch were several things:
- Silicon Valley's eternal hope for the money bubble
- Silicon Valley's eternal hope for the Microsoft killer
- Silicon Valley's eternal hope for the next Woz/Jobs
- Everyone's hope for the presentation of something that will deliver us from mediocre social networking crap
"I don't get it!" a frustrated Howard Rheingold lamented to me in July, "These are solved problems!" He was nearly begging me to say something nice about Facebook. He was stunned that Facebook has such lousy groups, lousy messaging, and lousy threading.
Which brings us to the the real heart of Facebook OS launch and our slow, depressing disillusionment with it.
- We all want to communicate
Facebook helps us play around, but it doesn't help us really communicate. We want it to, but it doesn't. It's a fun toy and I use it every day. But it is not a social operating system.
Now, Facebook is undermining itself.
Today, I received this spam in Facebook.
This coincides with massive Facebook foot-shooting discussed today by Om Malik. Facebook is opening itself up to external (though allegedly limited) search. Om says:
This move transforms Facebook from being a social network to being quasi-White Pages of the Web ... On a more prosaic level, this “public search” move will help goose up the page views nicely - handy metric when trying to tap the public markets. ... Think broadly however, this is yet another small step in the overall erosion of personal privacy, thanks to the ever growing popularity of the social networks.
In other words, what we see here is Facebook owning some of your content and then using your content to drive pageviews (advertising impressions) with no discernable benefit to you. The drive of social networks creates social momentum which is easily conceptually tied to Google juice. In the future, when people Google me, rather than getting my bio at Gray Hill or my blog, they'll get my silly Facebook page first.
Howard in turn wrote about Facebook Friending spam:
"When I complained in my status message, another Facebooker told me that the “Friend Finder” overrides user privacy settings and spams friend requests via users’ gmail contact lists."
Finally, add all this to the fact that people's profiles in Facebook are a million miles long because you can't even breathe on an app without having to install it and Facebook's usability as a social networking tool sinks to near zero.
Am I going to have to build a real social networking platform myself?