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Facebook Lacks the Qualities to be Elite

by Caleb Garling | SF Chronicle

snip ---

...The list [of elite tech companies] is a short one. Usually, it includes Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and (debatably) Microsoft. Investment giant Kleiner Perkins suggests it's the first four, and the folks at TechCrunch echo as much.

The Economist featured the first four on the cover of a December issue on the "Battle of the Internet giants," and gave honorable mention to Microsoft in the article. (You can't list Samsung yet - not until it doesn't depend on Google for its mobile operating system.)

Big, but not deep

I agree with that list, including Microsoft - except for Facebook. Cross it off. And not just, as some have joked, because eliminating Facebook "would boost national productivity." It's more about the way Facebook seems to view the future.

Facebook has often made it clear, including again this week, that it wants to be a walled garden. Its most significant tentacles to the Web outside its own network consist of Connect and flimsy "Likes." Otherwise the company's business depends on you checking your News Feed.

Graph Search, this week's announcement, was just an improved search engine within Facebook. Zuckerberg and company want you to forget the rest of the Web (and considering how bad its mobile app has been, you'd think your phone, too).

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Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/technology/article/Facebook-is-not-an-...

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Maddening in one word.

But I seldom have just one word. Not even gonna read the article, we had it there for a while.

A years long battle was waged against Microsoft's attempt to hijack internet standards (promulgated by W3) and developers all over the world pressured them and eventually threw them away in favor of Firefox. It was called the "stadards-based movement" and the idea was simply to get browser writers to adopt a uniform standard so pages look and act the same way across platforms.

It worked brilliantly until now. Now once again we're lost in this proprietarian "app-centric" model and we basically have to create multiple versions of sites to comply with browsers and hand held devices. The costs are enormous. I see this primarily with Google as people build whole business models on Google and see them devastated when Google changes it's mind. When they rolled out Panda/penguin the whole SEO industry was flattened and many, many businesses that relied on SE profile were hit...like hard enough to break ribs and jaws. You might remember a major shift in what Google gave you a while back, it went from returning authoritative information to...guess what? Sites with more window dressing and like me, love me, take me home and adore me on facebook, tweet me! please tweet me and share me and eat me up in loving spoonfulls. I can describe it in one sentance: giving people what they like as opposed to what's good for them.

Not to say these algos aren't fascinating. Finally somebody has found a way not only to express what people like and WHY. It tells us what some of us already know and can objectify, it's truly a massive amount of factors bound in time and causality combined with certain human truths. One of these is in spite of our frequent behaviour, humans are genetically, physically, emotionally and spiritually gregarious creatures. We literally cease to function and destroy ourselves without other humans. But as usual, I ramble.

With this shift back to proprietarian products and platforms, pretty much everything we knew about accessibility went out the window. For years we waged and continue to wage a battle, as web developers, with vendors that want to insert proprietary control over the industry with arbitrary interpretations of how to parse code and with Microsoft, an endless array of "custom tags" that work in IE and nothing else. We really drove the point home with Firefox. Let this be an enduring lesson. Microsoft's haughty position was that they own the installed base, they ship with everything, they own the market. That worked until they became SUCH A MONUMENTAL PAIN IN THE ASS THAT PEOPLE TURNED AWAY FROM THEM IN SHEER DISGUST. Once there was a really awesome alternative.

With app-centric (platform dependant->proprietary model) development, young developers and designers aren't exposed to standardized values and accessibility and once again we have the return on the grey font on the white background and itty-bitty text that doesn't wreck the designer's grand vision for a reinterpreted Sistine Chapel. Bunch of wannabe Michelangelos. GOOD LUCK USING YOUR OWN STUFF WHEN YOU ARE OLDER. Hey did you know that some form of color blindness effects about 17% of the population? Did you know that little buttons are hard to use when your old hands start to shake? Did you know that with CSS2 and XHTML we were making sites that blind people could literally "see" and navigate in much the same way I and perhaps you do? People using tongue mice, text readers, speech recognition, paraplegics, people with all manner of disability were suddenly in a sense free. That was magic, I did a lot of work in this field early on, literally worked next to persons with various disabilities. Naturally you only got that in the not for profit realm back then but what amazing fun that was. Well now apps and once again sites are reverting back to all this glitz and razzle dazzle and cross marketing that people are information inundated. Walls are going up. Increasingly, people's awareness of their environment is reducing in scope. That's kind of a paradox. If you have all your senses, in this situation you start shutting them down. Kinda the opposite for the highly disabled person for whom their physical plaftorm is something they truly might as well escape from.

And now there's facebook which has made itself so "necessary" to marketing almost any product that it forces changes of habit and lifestyle. For business OWNERS or staff since they are the only ones that truly know their business and can communicate it to customers who turn around and tell them "I just got a haircut" or "pics of my new dog adorable SMOOTCHEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZ". And it's a time vampire and they know it and what I have heard more than any single other string from clients is:

"Forget it, I'm not doing it".

Cause most business owners are interested in only one relationship, that between DO THE WORK and MAKE THE MONEY. Not reaching their hands up people's skirts and grabbing them by the cooter and making them giggle and dance like puppets. Increasingly the winners aren't who builds the best products and stands behind them, the winners are the people best able to project personality and razzle dazzle and reach up your skirt and grab you by the cooter and make you dance like a puppet.

There's always moves to the outside, a great many rational professionals have rejected facebook in favor of linkedin and more focussed networks. facebook then becomes "just a way to keep in touch with family and friends" which is convenient for me to the point that anything I want the family to know I just tell one of my chatty nieces. But this still doesn't do enough to make me want anything but to see facebook die an agonising and miserable death. And I'd like to see other app developers reduce google back to being the best search engine yet seen by humans. And I'm sick of the whole web being "log in with either google or facebook", every website tracked by google, the enormous "predictive engine" that some of us knew was coming but ONLY A FEW OF US DIDN'T CASH IN ON BUT RATHER SAW THE DANGER AND REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE and now the NSA knowing that you are reading this in your underwear.

Time doesn't favor monopoly. Free markets tend to whittle them down. Why doesn't Zuckerberg seem to get this? I think he does. He only has to innovate fast enough to clear profits and satisfy user demand. Why did they put such sloppy attention into hand held apps? In two words, market domination. facebook and google are now the "ubiquitous apps" at the top of the food chain and WHERE ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO GO? But ultimately people will migrate to the next cool thing. Time was when myspace was all the rage. Time was a lot of things were.

Open source is it's own universe. I think what keeps geeks from re-imagining facebook is we're perfectly comfortable with the communications tools at our disposal. We're always, always logged into skype and we create our own communities in our own offices (bedrooms) and it's invite-only. And it's very nearly on our event horizon that there will be "othernets". Where did you get this? It's not here, it's only on the othernet. Anothernet. Hold on, I gotta switch nets, brb.

There's still some physical layer impediments there but ultimately it's gonna come down to a battle of encryption or opt out. The greatest tragedy in the history of human communication might turn out to be the extirpation of the carrier pidgeon.

I think that's my whole thinking on the subject.

Be brave, be brave, the Myan pilot needs no aeroplane.

It will fail like Myspace.

It will fail like Myspace.

Southern Agrarian

How do you not include

How do you not include Microsoft in that list? I don't even.


Michael did you see this post?

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