Sunday, November 14, 2010


It is mid-November, and although most concession speeches have been given, we are currently awaiting a few, very specific people to wake-up, smell the coffee, throw in the towel, and ride into the sunset. Or do it without the clichés, I don't care. It's time to admit defeat, and move on.

So, in the spirit of admitting when you've been beat, I've rejoined Facebook.

I am not proud of this decision. Nor am I ashamed. I am, however, beaten. I concede. Facebook has a won the battle for control of my social communications. When I announced my write-in candidacy for social networking with a conscience, many of my friends told me they understood and wished me well. I told people I would keep in touch with other mechanisms, and despite my earnest belief that I would do that, the closest I came was in using Twitter more regularly. I did not pick up the phone more often. I did not email people I didn't see. I just sorta dropped off the face of social communications.

I lost.

So now comes the part where I wax wearily about waning wants. As much as I thought I could make a reasonable go of it, my opponent outspent me and had the more resonant message. I stood on the outside and planted my banner, hoping the as-yet-still-inactive Diaspora or someone else (GoogleMe, are you out there?) would come to my rescue. I waited as my supplies dwindled, and everyone else in the walled garden continued on, sharing updates and photos. I didn't see a picture of my classmate's new baby. I missed invitations to events. The cost of being on the outside simply outweigh the cost of living in walled garden.

Facebook doesn't seem to mind that I've been gone, however. It let me reload my contacts, re-up my Scrabble game, and repost some pictures. I'm back in, as if I never left. I'd like to promise to fully support my opponent, but really, if the time comes when there is a real working alternative, I'll be jumping at the chance. Until then, let me congratulate the winner. You've built a darn good mousetrap, and I guess I really need one.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It is goodbye after all, Facebook.

I'm taking a class in professional ethics right now, and it was a fantastic opportunity to examine the constant conundrum of callous craziness conceived and created by Facebook. I posted earlier that I would come back if Facebook woke up and smelled the revolt.

Well, they responded to the privacy issue. Check out their blog for the official response if you care about such things. For me, it didn't ring with any conviction. It read like something drafted by a politician caught with a hand in the cookie jar. "I'm sorry you misunderstood my good intentions."

So I thought on this some more and did some writing for my class. I had said I would return to Facebook if they got the privacy issue resolved, and they did improve the situation. But then I realized - when the furor dies down and no one is looking, they can unimprove it in some as-of-now-not-yet-conceived way. They have done that before. I have no reason to doubt they will do it again. I don't see any signs of "oh - I see now" concern coming from Facebook. I see signs of "Hmmmm. Will this placate you for now?"

I could be dead wrong, of course. But the ethics class I'm in is circling around the intangibles of what makes an ethical decision. We have some structured thinking to work through in class, but a lot of it comes back to the "smell test." I just don't feel good about being engaged with this company. It makes me antsy. So I set loose the gerbils in my head to spin on their various wheels (Gerbil one - you take the Convenience wheel. Gerbil two - you get the Mass Adoption wheel. Gerbil three - run the Constructive Engagement wheel for a while...). I turned the wheels round and round. And the answer, like Dorothy's red shoes, was there all along.

This just *feels* wrong.

I don't trust them. I don't like not trusting them. I don't feel good about going back in to a service I don't feel good about. I'm meta-uncomfortable.

So, mea culpas aside and any temporary fixes that may be coming notwithstanding, I'm closing out. May 31 is Quit Facebook day, and I signed up to kill my accounts then. Facebook won't notice, and Facebook won't care. But I'll feel better, and gerbil seventy-two can take a rest from the Why Are We Doing This wheel.

Friday, May 14, 2010

So long, Facebook. Perhaps not goodbye.

For years, I have been among the devoted Facebook followers, asking my friends to join, posting irrelevant, and sometimes relevant, stuff there. Sharing photos, playing Scrabble - you name it. It was great.

All good things, apparently, must come to an end.

I won't go on and on about the horrible changes Facebook has made to their privacy settings and how they treat users. Persons interested in learning more can go to here for a great graphic of how this has changed since it all started. There's plenty of posts detailing the horror. No need to repeat. It is, after all, a link economy.

What I've struggled with is the question, do I need to participate in something I am ethically opposed to (appropriating information from users without choice) or can I live without the news stream, which is really the important part of Facebook for me. So, I tried it for a week.

Here I am, on the other side, alive.

I miss my friends' updates, but I am also convinced that it is better to make a conscious decision to keep in touch with them via web, Twitter, phone, email, IM and - heaven forbid - postal mail. I'm also convinced that either Facebook will wake up and smell the revolt, in which case I'll come back, or someone else will do it better and Facebook will become MySpace.

One of the contenders in the "doing it right" space is Diaspora. I love the name. They are working on a dedicated, privacy rich, open source social network movement. So are others, I'm sure. These folks aren't funding it with venture capital demanding a bazillion point return or an advertising based exit strategy. I don't mind viewing some ads to pay for a useful service, but c'mon - not allowing me to post profile information unless I make it public to the world? Thanks, but no thanks.

So, I'll keep my stripped-to-the-bone, personal FB profile in cryogenic suspension. It'll be there if things change and I come back. I'll keep my work account alive, but will similarly strip that down to just the things I need for work. In the meantime, I'll be watching and waiting for the inevitable Better Idea to replace the Zuckerberg craziness.