Sunday, December 02, 2007

How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook

A highly articulate piece from Cory Doctorow (LINK . . . and what else would you expect from Cory?) about the built-in limits of social networking platforms like Facebook. It argues that Facebook is limited by what I'd call "slack anonymity", the fact that you have to "accept" or "reject" friends and that this black and white act at some point makes it a system from which you have to opt out entirely rather than face the requirement to choose. But the alternative is the way I use Facebook--and it seems this is how most of my age 30+ friends use it too. It's a business social networking site not a personal site. It's a public face not a private one. I assume that anything posted on Facebook is not only accessible to my Facebook friends but in fact to the whole world. Yes, I don't want to be friended by everyone. And I'm many many orders of magnitude away from the public persona that is Cory's blessing and his curse, meaning that I'm generally friended by people I know. But I don't think Facebook has to devolve to the scrapbook of history, as Cory suggests it will. Facebook's choice, instead of sliding into the obscurity and the ignominy of being simply a Wikipedia reference, is to become essentially a public place, effectively if not actually an unwalled garden, a more personal LinkedIn. And with a valuation to match, certainly less than their current $15 billion one. And other, more private places will figure out how to take their place for one's more personal and private circles of friends. Or they can figure out how people can create different faces within their system.
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