John C. Dvorak says in “Why I Don’t Use Facebook” that FB is “basically AOL with a different layout and all the same retro problems.” Check out the article for yourself, it’s worth the read.
“Facebook is retro because, like AOL, it’s retro by its nature. It’s a closed system. Some people like a closed comfy system and others don’t. I, for one, don’t. If I want a personal webpage with all sorts of information about myself, I’ll go to WordPress.com and make one. By doing this, I don’t turn over any data, control, or information to an onerous third-party to sell, use, or exploit. I can close down the site when I want. I can say what I want. I can pretty much do whatever.”
My two cents. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, and I will continue to use it. But I also think that it’s popularity reflects some of our societal “dark side” as well. It has to do with how our society thinks about “convenience.” For most people “seeming convenience” trumps “real convenience.” The price United Statesians pay for the privilege of consuming (up to now) 80% of the world’s resources is that we pay for this “privilege” with blood and treasure (and our souls, metaphorically speaking). The trade-off for using something like Facebook may sometimes be parallel. Sure it’s fun, but in Facebook, our comments drift every which way *, we remain insecure about our security, and we get screwed when we try to use their advertising (subject for a later blog) and and and… So yes, I still use it and often enjoy it.
BUT I’m blogging more and then adding links to the blog into Facebook. This way, I can have a safe threaded ongoing dialogue with anyone who cares to join me here. Is it harder to login or register with WordPress? No, it’s about the same, maybe simpler: just make up a username, and add password and email address (worried about security, get a “trash” email address from Gmail). In terms of security, I’ll put my money on WordPress.
Going back to Dvorak’s comments, here’s how I’d put it. WordPress is to Facebook as Gmail is to classic email, as voice mail is to an answering machine, as email is to faxing, as the phone is to a telegram. They are not only better, they are: 1. qualitatively superior, 2. have features that alter the meaning and functionality of the technology (ex. a car is NOT a horseless carriage).
There are always the “early adopters.” What’s interesting is that the “newer” technologies get so bollixed up. That’s why I like Macs, for example (another blog), it gives us a new technology, but tries to save us from a “horseless carriage” mentality about what we can do with a computer. And I think, that’s why I don’t like Facebook.
Speaking of technology evolution. Here’s a phenomenon that illustrates some of these issues very nicely. I moved from Portland Oregon to a tiny town (pop. 240) on the coast in Nov 2009. The most popular networking tool for the local community is an email system. We’re talking pre-bbs technology here. You sign up and then send anything you want to disseminate to this (very nice) guy who shall remain nameless. In return, you receive anywhere from 15 to 40 emails A DAY that he forwards from all the other members. It’s right up there with shooting geese with a rock. But try and get something more useful going? Good luck with that. Because people have finally wrapped their heads around the fact that email is useful (and not some dadburned newfangled toy) NOW, they won’t budge from there (the First Mover Advantage).
And so we’ve moved from Ning, to MySpace to Facebook. Meanwhile there’s WordPress.
One more thought for now. My guess is that Dvorak prefers Android over the iPhone. He likes “open systems.” Whereas I’m happy to sign over – when the trade-off makes it worthwhile – some of the flexibility that an open system offers (in this case) to the end-to-end simplicity and cohesiveness of the mac environment, whether it iPhone, iPad, iMac etc. WordPress, in contrast to Facebook, however, offers the best of both worlds. It’s internally cohesive, but you can add bells and whistles easily without having to be an IT-class brain.
* Yes, I know about Notes, and I’ve also created several FB pages, some of which have really taken off and meet a need.
See also: interesting article (and comments) on this subject.