Danah is confused by Facebook's fans

Danah Boyd writes that she’s she is “utterly confused by the ways in which the tech industry fetishizes Facebook”.

She asks some good questions and makes some good points. Lets go through them. My answers in italics.

1. “In an effort to curb spam, they killed off legitimate uses of mass messaging, silencing those well-intentioned users that adored them.” Totally true. It’s ridiculous that I can’t add more than 5,000 contacts. Even worse is the scalability of the platform they designed. Many of the apps I’ve been using lately simply don’t work if you have more than a couple hundred of contacts.

2. “But what I don’t understand is why so much of the tech crowd who lament Walled Gardens worship Facebook.” Because there isn’t anything better. It’s like why we are so gaga over the iPhone. The iPhone is locked up tight and doesn’t let us play. But it is so superior to the alternatives that we’ll put up with all the walls. I’ve seen this play out before, though. Remember in 1989? Apple had the Macintosh II and was way ahead of any other platform. They ended up with, what, five percent market share because a more open platform steamrolled over them. It’s why I watch Plaxo so closely and keep cheering them on.

3. Join a City network and your profile is far more open than you realize. Ahh, the walls aren’t high enough! Heheh. One of the first things I recommend people to learn on Facebook is how to use the privacy settings to adjust who has access to your stuff.

4. The default is far beyond friends-only and locking a FB profile down to friends-only takes dozens of clicks in numerous different locations. Totally true. For many people changing their privacy settings will take too much work. Facebook would be good to come up with some scenario-based choices. “I don’t want anything available to anyone.” “I’m cool with some of my stuff, but not my private stuff available to my friends.” Etc., etc. Personally, I’m on the other end of the scale “I don’t want any walls between me and anyone who wants to see me.” I guess that’s why I have a blog along with a Facebook profile.

5. if you install an App, you give the creator access to all of your profile data (no one reads those checkboxes anyhow). Yes, true. Be careful of those apps. On the other hand that’s what makes apps work well for me.

6. I can’t wait to see how a generation of college students feel about their FB profile appearing at the top of Google searches. That outta make them feel good about socializing there. Not. Yikes. Not that evil Google! Personally I love that you can find my stuff through Google (click that and you’ll see what my Facebook profile looks like to Google). And those college students will be very happy when employers start contacting them with career opportunities (or better).

7. Is [the over-30] crowd sustainable? Is it worth it monetarily? Is it affecting the college participation? Based on my discussions with people, yes, although she does identify that not everyone gets Facebook. Enough do, though, to make it a big business concern.

I think Danah is onto something, though. Facebook has a few huge holes:

1. The app platform rocks cause it’s the first time we’ve been able to see what our friends have loaded on their machines but it sucks lately because the new kind of apps (the ones that aren’t stupid games or gifts) rely on studying your social graph. Those kinds of apps generally aren’t scalable, rarely work, and generally break if you have more than a couple hundred of friends.

2) Privacy in Facebook is frustrating. For me I just want to turn it all off. So I notice the walls. For my friends who are newbies and who don’t want to be public? The settings are too hard to figure out and the nomenclature is difficult to understand. What’s a “network” anyway? Who does that apply to? There aren’t any examples and you only learn about those by spending a bunch of time inside Facebook learning about how it works. Danah’s right to point out this stuff is way too hard and doesn’t “thrill.”

3) I want per-content privacy. Flickr gets this right by letting me click a button on photos and setting the privacy for that photo.

4) The limit on # of friends? Ridiculous. Get rid of that. Or let me pay for a “pro” account without any limits. Buzz Bruggeman has tens of thousands of people in Microsoft Outlook. It’s not impossible to get that many contacts. If Facebook really wants to be the rolodex for the modern age it needs to get rid of those limits. Everytime someone wants to add me now it makes me pissed off at Facebook. It’s pissing me off hour of every day now.

Anyway, thanks to Danah for getting a conversation going. Tomorrow’s Data Sharing Summit should be a good place to discuss all this stuff.

Dear Steve Jobs

Dave Winer wants a T-shirt.

Me, I’d like to let you keep the $100 per iPhone you so generously are going to give me and other early adopters who bought the iPhone.

Here’s what I’d like for my $300.

I’d like an iPhone where software developers can go to town and play.

I’d like an SDK. A real one. One where we can build apps that talk to the accelerometer in the iPhone. One where we can install apps like the very cool Google Maps or Yahoo Finance apps that are on the iPhone’s home screen.

I’d like Flash. SVG. Java. So software developers can build apps like my very cool Kyte.tv mobile app that lets me answer chat from my Nokia phone, or upload video.

I’d like you to turn on the camera so that I can record some video.

I’d like to buy some video games. Like those over on Kongregate.

I think that’s all worth $100 per iPhone. I’d rather have all these things than have a gift certificate.

Thank you. But since I don’t have any of this stuff I’ll take the $100.

Sun's ZFS sued by Netapps

Last night Dan Farber came up to me and asked me if I had talked with the ZFS team about the suit (he saw that yesterday I put up a video interview with the two guys who invented ZFS). “What suit?” I asked. Turns out Netapps had sued Sun for a whole range of patent violations.

Today Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, answers back. Gotta love a CEO who uses a blog like that.

The $600 Apple Tax (UPDATED: now only $300 for me)

You think you got it bad cause the iPhone dropped in price by $200? My family has bought three of them so far. Well, four, if you include Patrick’s mom, who just bought one a week ago. She’ll be able to get her $200 back, but the rest of us have paid an early-adopter-tax of $600.

My first response? This is nothing new.

I remember when Steve Wozniak showed me his new die-sublimation printer back in 1990. It cost him $40,000. Today a $70 printer does a better job.

This “reduce the pricing” trend is one of the reasons I LOVE this industry.

Seagate, today, just brought out new hard drives. More capacity. More features. Lower price.

Am I bummed that I spent $2,000 on my first 20 megabyte hard drive when today a $400 model is a terabyte? No. I’m happy!

I celebrate anytime our industry drops prices. It brings more people into what we’re doing.

That said, Terrence Russell in Wired talks about the four mistakes Apple made with the price drop. He makes some good points.

But, I’m cool with paying a high price to be first. I’ll be first in line for the next great innovation too.

I guess I should complain that my $4,000 HDTV now costs about $2,000 after a year and a half. Or that our new cars are only worth half what we paid for them. Or that gas prices are going up (I wish THAT industry worked the same way that the tech industry worked).

Actually, if I had something to be unhappy about it’d match the questions that PodCasting News asked of Apple.

UDPATE: Apple, er, Steve Jobs, just announced that we’ll get a $100 gift certificate for each iPhone purchased before the price drop. That’s awesome.

Thank you Google, thank you!

Thank you Google for the new Google Reader. Thank you. Read more about the new features on TechMeme. Thank you Google for the new Google Reader. Thank you. Read more about the new features on TechMeme. Thank you Google for the new Google Reader. Thank you. Read more about the new features on TechMeme. Thank you Google for the new Google Reader. Thank you. Read more about the new features on TechMeme. Thank you Google for the new Google Reader. Thank you. Read more about the new features on TechMeme.

I like it when companies give me features I ask for.

Seagate's solid-state future

Disclaimer: Seagate sponsors my show. In a year I’ve done about 300 interviews and none have paid anything to get on my show other than Seagate, so can’t say thank you enough to Seagate.

But here we have two videos. One where execs show off the new products they just announced in New York. But the second one is interesting. I sit down with Seagate’s CEO and some of the top execs and we talk about what role solid-state memories will play in Seagate’s future business. Why does that matter? Because Seagate is largely a hard-drive company today.

Now, are these advertisements? Yes. But they aren’t ads like you’ll see on mainstream TV, that’s for sure.

Marketing through having conversations. Hey, sounds like a famous book I remember. 🙂

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