April 16, 2009

Why I (Re)Joined Facebook

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:56 pm by Ian

About a year and a half ago, I closed my Facebook account. Not completely, because to actually close a Facebook account is a Hurculean task, I did the closest thing I could, which was to delete most of the information from it, and deactivate it. At the time, I was annoyed at Facebook for their continued pattern of abuse* of their subscribers privacy, which regularly went like this:

  1. Without warning, roll out new potentially-invasive “feature”. Example: helpfully broadcasting users’ shopping activities on other websites.
  2. Watch as internet storm clouds gather.
  3. A few days later, apologize for misunderstanding. Had no idea that users wouldn’t want to be unwitting shills for corporate interests.
  4. Add preferences to disable new “feature”, but default them to “on.”

Plus, I thought, Facebook is just another in the long line of social networking sites. Over a few years, I created profiles at Friendster, Orkut, and MySpace, and those had all pretty much died out. Facebook had recently added apps, and I could already see the MySpacification** occurring. I was getting a little tired of migrating from one to another with little apparent benefit. I already had email to talk to people, and I already had a weblog to publish my thoughts. So what did I need another parallel communications system for?

A few days ago, I realized the mistake I was making.

A few years ago on Slashdot, there was a story about how only old people use email in Korea. The slashdotters made much of this, and for months each story about a nascent technology was greeted with “In Korea, only old people use tech.” They were absolutely incredulous that an effective and open communications standard was being displaced by a combination of closed and corporate-sponsored networks. But I think they (and I) missed the point. The value of a network is in the people who are using it.

Yeah, I could just email people, but I don’t. People could just read my weblog, but they don’t***. So I re-upped. Also, I made a twitter account. You can follow me at @ianferrel.

* This pattern has not changed. I’ve just decided that I’m going to ignore it.
** Note to aspiring social network app-writers: If your natural response to seeing that someone has developed a Vampire application, and someone else has developed a Werewolf application, is to write a SuperNeonVamWolfWerePire application, you’re doing it wrong.
*** Present company excluded.


  1. Kevin said,

    About time. Even my daughter has a Twitter account (twitter.com/sophielypang) and she isn’t even born yet!

  2. Ian said,

    And I see she’s used it as much as I have.

    She’ll lose a lot of coolness points for letting her Mom post to it, though.

  3. Dan said,

    Yes… come to the dark side! We have cookies!

  4. blaez said,

    msypace and facebook and twitter: only because others are doing it.

    my blog: so i wouldn’t have to repeat myself over and over again in regards to stuff going on with me….

    the awesome thing is… i make them go to my blog! lol. i have all my posts forwarded to myspace and facebook and twitter. comments ONLY allowed on my blog. they can push but i’ll push back…

  5. Kevin Pang said,

    You’re completely right about it being about the people. I hated Twitter at first because it felt like I was at an incredibly interesting party filled with people I wanted to converse with, only I had a muzzle over my mouth. That is, I could hear what everyone else had to say, but I couldn’t contribute back to the conversation because nobody was following me. It was only after I got some followers that it became useful for me. Granted, I tend to use Twitter as more of a professional tool to keep up to date on software than a way to communicate to friends and family. YMMV.

  6. Tim Newsome said,

    “Tim likes this.”

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