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Fri, Oct. 5th, 2007, 10:07 am
See the animal in the cage that you built

I'm largely of the opinion that Facebook is the epitome of all evil and is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse, a foreshadow of the dark days to come and a tool design by the minions of the devil to suck up time.

Of course, I have an account. I got it to test a Facebook App and then suddenly I had like 6 friends already. And then more people added me and suddenly I was compulsively approving people and adding others because Debrett's don't have a chapter on whether or not it's rude to not friend someone back merely because you want to stop using the blasted service.

It's genius.

Seriously, through accident or design it's the most genius bit of self sustainment since Pokemon (which wore its heart on its sleeve with "Gotta buy^W catch 'em all") or Beanie Babies (limited edition teddy bears - nigh Machiavellian!). And the idea of Facebook apps is inspired - why compete with everything else, make them come to us.

And then suddenly it snowballs and people start organising stuff via Facebook, sharing things via Facebook or only getting in contact with you via Facebook - sometimes it's ex girlfriends. Two of them. From like a decade ago. On the same day. That's just creepy. It's not like they know each other or anything so it can't have been a coordinated attack. I hope. Anyway, I digress.

I had a friend who complained that a sibling attempted to transmit medical records via the medium and it suddenly made me realise - I suspect one fo the reasons why it's so popular is that it's how most normal people expect "The Internet" to work. You know the type of people - use Outlook at work and Hotmail at home and jeopardy quote everything. Who don't know what the difference between "The Web" and "The Internet" is. Who naively expect everything to just work.

And I don't blame them - to them the internet is a commodity, an means to an end, not a joy in and of itself. Like cars there are some people to whom the tinkering with the car is the main thing and some to whom the driving is where it's all at and some people just want a way to getting to work that isn't the bus.

This is how they want their email (for want of another word) to work. They don't need threads or whatnot, they just want one place to go to get everything. No spam, no quoting, everything easy to use and infinitely extendable.

Want to send an invitation to an event with details to the location and photos for before and after? No problem. Want to tag people in the photos and then be told whenever you or your friends are highlighted - it's right there in your feed. It just works and moreover, it just works as expected. "Hell," you say, "Outlook's been doing meeting requests for years" yeah but can Outlook send you an invitation to join a Scrabble game or take a Movie quiz or recruit you into a zombie pirate vampire army ? No. Sure you can send links but it's not the same thing by a long way - it's not tightly integrated and seamless in a way that makes Apple strangely horny and mournful and jealous all at the same time.

I've been pondering if the surprisingly flexible RFC822 format could be moulded into a system that would allow this kind of interaction through smarter email clients but over traditional SMTP and without being tied to one website. Outlook seems to have a good start and multipart/mime messages seem like a good start. Authentication of the remote apps might be a problem but with OAuth and some agreed standard it's not undoable.

Or maybe the answer lies in XMPP or something - I don't think anybody disagrees that whilst SMTP was genius it was never designed with the modern email ecosystem in mind. Without wanting to become a Anti-spam kook it's possible that, without some sort of change, the masses may migrate away from open email standards towards a bright and shiny closed system because for them it's a much better deal and hang the idea of interoperability that we (possibly naively) cherish so dearly.

Oh dear, I've come over all doom and gloom end-is-nigh. And on a nice sunny Friday too. Shame on me.

Fri, Oct. 5th, 2007 10:09 am (UTC)
wildilocks

:P

Fri, Oct. 5th, 2007 10:24 am (UTC)
deflatermouse

Hah! It was actually that image that inspired me to write that.

Sat, Oct. 6th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
wildilocks

I'm not even slightly surprised, the Intarweb seems to spread all its amusing memes with unfailing ubiquity these days...

Back when ah were a lass it were different, we had to wait weeks fer people in different friends circles to all see the same meme! *shakes cane in crotchety fashion*

Fri, Oct. 5th, 2007 10:41 am (UTC)
easterbunny

So what is the difference between the Web, the Internet, and the int0rweb?

Fri, Oct. 5th, 2007 10:50 am (UTC)
deflatermouse

The width of the tubes.

Fri, Oct. 5th, 2007 03:23 pm (UTC)
pfig

right now there's only one use for smtp: kill it, bury it deep and salt the ground around the place.

Fri, Oct. 5th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
hollyp

OK, we really need to talk more about this when we are sober....

Sat, Oct. 6th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)
deflatermouse

What is this "sober" you speak of?

Is it an Americanism I'm not familiar with?

Sun, Oct. 7th, 2007 10:49 am (UTC)
hollyp

Going to miss you!! Have a great trip, and hope to see you when you are back for a bit....

Sat, Oct. 6th, 2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
therealdrhyde

Good riddance to the masses. I hope they enjoy their Facebook and Myspace friends, while I continue to use Teh Intarwebs to communicate with *real* friends.

Mon, Dec. 24th, 2007 01:56 pm (UTC)
hex

*cough*

Fri, Dec. 28th, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC)
therealdrhyde

Consistency is for small weak minds :-)

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
cold_ataraxy

That actually made me realise how sad some things are. I have a facebook. I used it to organise my sixteenth birthday, I used it to organise when things weren't going well in my life ...

To me, it actually seems like Facebook is taking the place that Tribe took for a lot of people throughout the earlier part of this decade and before ... The difference would be that it was aimed younger, and younger. When will the internets end?

Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
deflatermouse

This is the 'problem' as I see it. And note my use of air quotes here - I usually deploy them only during strict emergencies.

The 'problem' (there I go again) is that Facebook is damn good at what it does. Sure it could be better in various places but that's sort of beside the point. It's awesome for organising birthday parties and getting your friends to play Scrabble with you. I'm not so sure about it as a blogging engine but how hard could that actually be to add on.

The problem (no airquotes this time) for the wider interwebs type people is that we have nothing that works as slickly and as tightly integrated and that historically appeals for open standards over convenience have largely failed with the general populace.

I'm horrifically jetlagged at the moment so I have a horrid feeling that's completely incoherent but I hope the gist is there.

Tue, Oct. 9th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
cold_ataraxy

The gist is well there. However, the entirety of the issue leaves me wondering what happened to the telephone.