Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Facing the book...

This post originally appeared yesterday as a facebook note... DOA management

I think I've worked out this new Facebook... Apparently, the idea is to be able to break your friends up into more manageable groups, like Google + and their 'circles'. when you don't pick categories for all your friends and loved ones, It auto-defaults to the people that you comment on the most. I suppose for the Facebook user that has several thousand friends that they don't actually know, this would be a pretty neat thing... pull out all the folks that you met through farmville and apps like it, and concentrate on the people that really matter to you.

Which is great if you have primarily casual acquaintances on your Facebook, but not so much if you actually care about all the people on your Facebook. Me, I have maybe 200 or so Facebook friends, and I'm pretty picky about who gets added. My hard and fast rule is that I either have to have had a flesh and blood conversation with you at some point in my life, or you have to be someone that I desperately want to have a conversation with (which is why there are a few of my author/heroes on my feed).

I have always felt that one of Facebook's genuine strengths was that I could loosely keep tabs on folks that I had long lost contact with. Updates about friends from high school and college whose lives I genuinely miss being a part of now have their lives played out in front of me on a daily basis. Pictures of spouses and offspring float past, invariably bringing a smile to my face whether I hit the "like" button or not . It was a great way for me to reconnect with people through the flood of child care and writing that is now my life. I like to think that my updates do the same for them.

But then a few days ago, Facebook decided that I obviously couldn't possibly care about all of these people, so it cut back my feed to the top ten that I comment on on a regular basis. They have confused my passivity for apathy. Among the people that wound up filtered out were my wife and three of my closest friends. This made no sense to me until I tried to set up a Google + account, and saw the paradigm that Facebook is scrambling to emulate.

I think that Facebook has really turned a corner. Rather than being the trendsetter, they are now playing catch-up, much as MySpace wound up doing with them a few years ago. I would think that it would benefit them to just make their own product as useful as possible (Where's my damn dislike button?) and to stop copying others.

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