Facebook is a fad!

I’m just amazed at the growth of Facebook. I’m amazed, because my experience on facebook has been far from perfect and so has been for lots of my friends. So when I see so many more people joining Facebook and hear about VCs excited about funding Facebook apps, I’m truly surprised. Every time I login, I feel overwhelmed with useless information from my network, thrust right on my face. I see I have some 400 requests to join applications and 20 notifications. And most notifications are from my application gung-ho friends. I don’t know what do with such useless information, noise.

Looking around in my network, I see my Indian friends adding applications at a mad pace. Friends from the US, use it for uploading photos and European ones to post bookmarks, videos, music, etc. So I wonder, is anybody really networking or interacting meaningfully? Could this probably be a Facebook strategy? Turn Facebook into an online place to hangout, alone? I can already see that happening with the Facebook application development frenzy. Right now I see people having most fun are the programmers, even more than the users. In stark comparison, consider the Apple iPhone. The platform is still closed, and wisely so. Because Apple doesn’t want the user’s experience to be compromised or less than perfect. It certainly isn’t because Apple is monopolistic.

Social networking? I’ve hardly ever used Facebook for messaging anybody. Once when I decided to say Hi to people, I was banned from messaging for a day after 10 messages. Facebook warned me, “Please do not use messages like e-mail or IM.” or something like that. Other ways I can connect to my friends or strangers is by ‘Poking them’, writing on a public wall or using non-verbal third party applications like superpoke, etc. It’s surprising Facebook wants to limit the only way of private and verbal communication between people. Why? Would I really poke a total stranger in the real life? Throw sheep at them? There’s no real world equivalent of Facebook interactions, which makes it a little hard for me to understand.

I wonder if Facebook is even thinking about user experience. They must be worried more about monetizing the amount of traffic they are recieving. To me Facebook looks like a site, which got lucky. I’ve never read a single article which tries explaining Facebook’s success only on the terms of it’s usefullness or strength of the plaform. The previous generation investors are astounded by the growth as are the bloggers and reporters. And it’s solely on the merit of it’s growth that everybody is calling it the future.

Here are the reasons why I think Facebook is quite easily replaceable or, honestly, sucks:

1. People are not on Facebook interacting with friends:

The interaction is more with the external applications. So really there’s barrier to exit and move to a better site. People will walk when time comes.

2. Addition of features uncontrolled:
The features are nearly completely customizable and dependent on external developers. So not everybody’s experience is similarly good or pleasing. Even a little control on quality of applications being hosted would have done. Letting applications run wild solely on the merit of popularity is a bad way. I’m unhappy and so are people around me. I presume there are others too.

3. Limited networking:
Why can I see people only in my network? Why can I be a part of a single network only? Not very comfortable.

4. Mostly juvenile:
There are just youth on the site. Can hardly be used for professional networking, not when people can’t even see your about me. And there’s a limited way of using the personal messaging tool.

5. Little scope for marketers:

Yes I keep hearing that the information trove about, what a particular demographic likes or is doing is priceless. But it’s also private. And with Facebook’s history of not respecting privacy and the retaliation of users after that, I hardly think it’s a great place to advertise. There surely are much better places for contextual and demographic targeted advertisements.

The next SNS(Social Networking Site) that comes along will have a tough time getting the users, but there’s surely still place for a better SNS. Soon when our generation is in 30’s, there’ll be a better site for the younger generation. So comparing Facebook with Google, who’s place in the world is without generation divide and will probably be so for a really long time, sounds ridiculous to me.

My personal favourite SNS is without doubt LinkedIn. It’s meager, but it’s comfortable. Maybe they should make it a little more fun place.

I remember reading on Techcrunch about a Google project in Carnegie Mellon for designing a new SNS, but can’t find the link anymore. Somebody please point me to it.

8 Responses to “Facebook is a fad!”

  1. March 26, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    when I last read abt u on the net(ya,u r already dat famous),u were supposedly developing a facebook app of your own…wats gone wrong 😛 ?

  2. March 26, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    It’s called wisdom 😀

  3. March 27, 2008 at 1:56 am

    A survey I read some time back said facebook is the second most popular thing(tied with beer and sex) only after Ipod. But, thank goodness someone agrees with me..my first hand experience with facebook has been really cumbersome.I’ve been surprised as many companies r so eager to collaborate with facebook(maybe ur explantion provides an answer), and even more when I heard some bollywood movie(can’t rem the name!) being first screened on facebook..

  4. March 27, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Ah it’s the Americans, they are truly strange… I heard about this, they would go without sex for 6 months if they would get a plasma screen TV at the end of it 🙂 .

  5. 5 Panamajack
    March 27, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Hello Abhishek,

    My experience with Facebook has been far more positive than yours, leading me to disagree with your assessment of the service (at least in my case). As for fads, I’d be curious to see what you think of Twitter (viewing Twittervision was what drew me to your article). I thought it was a stupid useless fad, now I just can’t wait till other friends join Twitter and make it truly useful for me.

    First of all, I’m Canadian (where we still prefer sex over 60″ of LCD glory :). Canada has extremely high rates of FB users, which do lead the service to be functionally much better – I can reasonably expect just about anyone under 30 to be on it, unless they are firm holdouts (something which I respect, others harass my non-FB using friends, which is unspeakably lame).

    Politicians, celebrities, organizations/NGOs all (assuming they’re tech aware) have a presence on FB as well.

    This being the case, I find it’s a fantastic service for all sorts of communication; catching up with friends, family, and increasingly actual networking. Certain emerging features that allow you to differentiate between different personal networks (family, friends, work, professional assc.) will make it much more useful to customize. Moreover, it functions as a fantastic address/event book, esp. for bdays.

    That all said, stupid apps are the scourge of services like this, but sadly it’s part of the appeal for many. I think FB will have to allow tighter controls on what type of app-invites people can send you for this annoying problem to go away.

  6. March 27, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Thanks for passing by Panamajack. You made a valid point, my facebook experience is a lot dependent on my network. The events and address book features are pretty useful, though I have hardly used it. It’s still growing in popularity in India, where we are all on orkut.com. Which is quite ugly, but serves my need.

    Talking about twitter, I believe adding scobleizer on my follow list was the last nail! But I recently cleaned up my follow list and slowly getting back to use it.

  7. 7 Chinmay
    April 18, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Thing about User Experience set me off… Was talking to this fellow undergrad… She had a problem with the way Facebook interaction is structured for changing your relationship status: “It asked me ‘Are you sure you want to cancel this relationship?’. It was so traumatic… I couldn’t get myself to say ‘Yes'”

    There’s certainly a lot that could be improved for online SNS. When it comes to understanding and communicating with people, even after centuries of speech; we aren’t perfect with it. SNS has only been around at max a decade?

  8. 8 Abhishek
    April 19, 2008 at 3:02 am

    You’ll be surprised at how common it is for people to break up through Facebook, by changing relationship status! So really humans are pretty cruel themselves.

    Related links:


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