A brief note on Facebook

By kate on December 15th, 2007

It seems that everyone is suddenly saying that Facebook is done. Whether they’re mad about Beacon, or just annoyed by all the zombie requests, the honeymoon is definitely over. Like everyone, I find I’m checking my news feed less frequently (not every day, but still several times a week).

There’s one point that I haven’t seen anyone make, and that’s that this is a normal phase that people go through when they adopt a new communication technology. Remember when email jumped from the techies to everyone else? It took a few years for users to get over the joke forwards and chain mail. I’m sure that when older things like telephones and fax machines hit the mainstream, people used them for frivolous things at first too.

There’s an etiquette learning curve, and I think we just need to wait for people to learn. Just as you needed to teach your Uncle Harry to use the BCC field in email, now you need to tell your friends not to invite everyone they know into their new Facebook application. Remember, it’s not the whole world you need to worry about – just your friends. Once your friends are Facebook-savvy, they won’t be polluting your account with Super Wall messages and personality quizzes.

I know it feels like we’re up to our ears in the crap right now, but it’s just a natural surge. It doesn’t change the fact that my Facebook account contains valuable assets: information and news about the people I know. I’ve taken the time to build a network of friends in Facebook, and I’m going to sit back and let the surge go by. When it recedes, my network will still be there, more communication-savvy than ever.

Filed under: technology
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2 Responses to “A brief note on Facebook”

  1. Laurel Says:

    I think an argument could also be made that email is done. People like us can’t really see it because we and most of the people we communicate with started using it before it sucked and have kept on top of anti-spam, filtering, etc. But about 95% of the people I know under the age of 20 don’t use it (they use IM, myspace, facebook…).

    In particular reading email with a desktop client on your computer is dead. And I would almost consider webmail a different species that evolved from email.

  2. kate Says:

    That argument could be made, but I don’t think it’s true. Just because younger people use other messaging tools doesn’t mean email doesn’t have its place in the toolbox. Just like the older generation uses email but tends to rely more on the telephone, our generation uses phones, IM and SMS but tends to rely on email, and the younger generation uses email but tends to rely on IM and SMS. We all have preferences, but don’t toss out old tools entirely.

    I’m not sure I would call webmail a different thing than client-based email, because the backend is the same. The basic definition of email (medium-length direct message) is independent of how you access it. I’ll allow that desktop email clients could be on the way out, but that’s the normal software iteration process, not the death of the entire medium.

    Thanks for your interesting thoughts. There’s more of a conversation in here, I think.

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