Six Questions For Facebook
Facebook is apparently the next big thing, even though it’s not exactly new or next, but it is a thing so at least the hype is partially accurate. My feelings towards Facebook are the same as my feelings towards most social networking sites. I want to like it, I mostly like it. I want a way to stay connected and my laziness combined with my inability to be offline make social networking seem like it should be perfect. But I don’t entirely like it. It’s like walking the shores of Lake Michigan when what you really want is the Pacific ocean. Close, but still not quite right.
But I have been attempting to use Facebook (although I have been doing an exceptionally poor job of it) and I have a few questions.
1. What if I don’t have a college email address?
Can I really just not tell you where I went to school? I need an email address? Are you purposely telling those of us who went to college before the days of email that we’re too old to use the site?
2. Seriously, how do you find your friends exactly?
Possibly I haven’t done a good job of figuring this out, but shouldn’t it be easy? I type a name into the search box and I get thousands of people with that name. And I can try to filter by network, but it doesn’t look all that simple. Can’t I just type some keywords about the person, like where they live and where they work? Maybe their favorite movie or type of donut?
3. What the hell is poking?
Just there to make me feel unhip, right?
4. We hooked up?
There’s nothing wrong with “we hooked up” as a concept, but the options on how you met someone leave a little to be desired. I feel as though there are some major categories missing. Where’s “met at the supermarket, looking at spring vegetables”? And Facebook, I will let you in on a little secret. I have been admitting that I’ve met many of my friends online for years. And most of the people on Facebook are also online and are using Facebook to talk to their friends online. So, they are likely OK with admitting they’ve sometimes met this way. In fact, I could use a whole subsection of “met online” options. You probably want options other than only “that craigslist casual encounters section”, but “on a forum”, “through blogging”, and “on [fill in the blank] social networking site” are a good start.
Mostly I want to just be able to type in whatever I want, but there’s not a text field available to me. Possibly once I choose “met randomly” I can add details? But that makes no sense as it makes all my friendships look like haphazard collisions when I was wandering around drunk one night. And maybe some of my friendships starting out that way (I have been to a lot of search conferences, after all), but not all of them.
5. Can’t you partner up with Flickr?
I get it. It’s cool that you can tag your pictures with people’s names and then they get notified when someone comments. But I am keeping track of too many things already. I can’t deal with storing my pictures in multiple locations. Can’t I just upload my Flickr feed and have some handy API for mapping my Facebook friends to my Flickr permissions and tags? I see that there are now a bunch of add-on apps for Flickr. But which one (if any) does what I want?
6. Why do you keep showing me random things?
For instance, it looks like I can see events from anyone in my network. My network is Seattle. It doesn’t help me much to go to an events page where I see events from everyone in Seattle. It may briefly make me feel popular until I realize I’m not actually invited to any of these things. I’m looking at the first event listed for me. It’s called “my birthday dinner”. However, it appears to be missing the person who set up the event so I can’t even tell whose birthday I’m missing. I suppose there may be some value in posting public events for your network. Like maybe if you’re in a band and you want to let everyone in Seattle know where you’re playing. The implementation could just use a little more thought. I’m also shown “6 of 55,656 people” in my network. Maybe this all would be more useful if I had a network other than this giant city full of people with whom the only thing I have in common is, well, the giant city.
Maybe if I used the APIs and add-ons and things, I could get Facebook to do exactly what I wanted. But I don’t want to build a social networking site. I just want to use one. Is that so much to ask?