ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context : Facebook

Like most InternetCulture old-timers, I'm against Facebook. And often get into discussions about how we can replace it and why.

Here is brief up-to-date summary of my thinking about this.

1) Facebook should be left, not just because it's a WalledGarden and a corporation that exploits us to make money. The most important thing that's wrong with Facebook is that, as a medium, it's designed to disempower us.

We might think that it helps us do things by letting us find and communicate with each other. But in a MarshallMcLuhan TheMediumIsTheMessage sense, the medium of Facebook actually discourages us from acting.

Instead, Facebook is optimised to keep us checking the feed, following one damned link after another (HypertextSickness), and passively liking and forwarding things instead of doing more.

2) The way to escape Facebook is NOT to compete directly against it, and try to build rival SocialNetworkingSoftware that does everything that FB does.

That's extremely unlikely to succeed. Don't fight your enemy where he's strong (on ubiquity) fight him where he's weak(er).

Two sites that succeed in taking people away from Facebook:

  • Quora
  • PinterestBoth do it by being better than Facebook in the restricted domain they operate in.

There are many more opportunities for specialists to outperform FB and take attention away from it.

There is still no really good discussion / decision making site the way that Quora or StackOverflow are great Q&A sites.

3) The ubiquity of Facebook isn't exactly the problem we think it is. It's not that everyone we know is there. It's far more that we are there (checking out our friends) and so get alerts for all the notifications that are happening in other facets of our lives.

As so often, DaveWiner is on the right track, promoting a distributed syndication / feed structure in RssCloud

If there was a good, open PublishAndSubscribe system, then any application (on or offline) that you use which generates feeds of notifications, could ping the server. And we could just have a continuously updated agregation page bringing them together.

That would make a working alternative to Facebook for many internet savvy people.

It won't include your long-lost cousins, but it will be enough to keep your professional life off Facebook.

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