StingyBook? SelfishBook?

Since in my Being There presentation I blabbed about being “open” and looking at new tools from the “inside” I am trying my best to hold those attitudes while looking at what is becoming the juggernaut of Facebook. I’m feeling a bit slow to warm to it and looking for some heat.

Facebook just seems a bit stingy with content.

I get the insanely interconnectedness of it all, of getting updates not only what people are “doing” (wow, it is like twitter in N-dimensions). The adding of new tools and customizing etc is bone head easy. People are creating new add on tools every day, so the platform being “open” to creating new functionality. That’s good. I see organizations (e.g. my own) stepping in to provide a presence and gaining new connections.

Well, at least “friends”, and yet, that is in quotes. There are true friends and there are one click “friends”.

I am being open-minded. Really. I am trying. I am finding it uphill.

But here are some things I don’t like. Facebook seems very stingy and walled in many regards- take for example pictures. It will eagerly go and suck in your flickr photo stream (because flickr provides this) to your profile. However, to add any photos to shared albums, or to put them inside the Facebook walls, I have to re-upload them again, re-write captions (the iPhoto plugin works great, but it is a smack dab repeat of the flickr process, and I HATE uploading the same media twice). Once my photos are in Facebook- can they be used anywhere else? Not outside of Facebook. Nope. Are there Creative Commons licenses? Nope. I am not feeling all that inclined to add many photos to such a closed box.

I am wary of web sites where I cannot export my content. The ones I favor provide tools to “get my stuff” out at any time, in formats compatible with other sites.

Don’t like the photo tracks? What about the books I am reading/read feature? If I am already tracking that ins say, an open tool like LibraryThing, to do the same task in facebook, I have to re-enter all my book titles again. Can any external web applications use this data? Nope, there are no APIs.

There are few available RSS feeds from facebook. They certainly suck in all kinds of content via RSS feeds externally, but do they turn around and provide the same feature back? Nope. Smacks me as stingy.

What about networks? Besides geographic ones (and I can see nothing compelling in the flow of ‘information’ of the Phoenix network), I am finding others are limited by email. I cannot join the Arizona State University network, though I am an alumni, because I lack a current ASU email address. I cannot join a network based on rather stingy criteria.

Hmmm, so far I am not sounding very open-minded. But I am checking in even more than I was a few weeks ago, trying to sort out what all of the invitations and notices and walls and superwalls and pokes and whatnot. There’s a whole lot of connective and update activity, but am trying to find a bit more meat. Stuff.

Yes, I ought to give it a fair shake, so I am remaining open to it, and am just waiting for the light bulb to shine for me.

Okay, I have enjoyed Scrabulous in Facebook. There, I stated something I like.

I am not feeling the magic potential I get from more open environments. Maybe Facebook is changing, or maybe someone will shine some light my way. Maybe I am over the hill.

I really would like to be more positive. Help me….

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Hi Alan,

    There is no need to be positive. Stay true to yourself. I have had a half hearted attempt at working with Facebook. I am not impressed. True, two old friends tracked me down but now we use email to stay in contact.

    I am thinking of closing the Facebook account for a number of reasons. Its privacy aspects have been reduced. I have had to tighten my settings so i am not inundated with games and the like. I feel I do not need to compare movie likes and dislikes with all and sundry. Why should one indulge in these silly games? I find it somewhat childish. I am particularly annoyed by the trashy nature of some of the sponsored items in the News Feed.

    Fred Oliveira and Danah Boyd make some salient points.



    I think Facebook is losing a great deal of its initial attractiveness and heading down the slippery slope towards that nether realm occupied by MySpace. Admittedly Facebook has a reasonably clean interface and elegant design (something MySpace lacks 100%).

    Give me the core “web 2.0” technologies such as blogs and wikis any day. These tools possess sound foundations, concrete applications in teaching and learning and finally, that wonderful combination of permanence and malleability.

    No need to be positive and Facebook isn’t really all that magical in my opinion. As Linus used to say ~ “Bleah!” to Facebook.


  2. Well I was going to respond to your post but first I have to say I really love John’s comment LOL.

    For me the positives are the connections that I would not have made without Facebook. I have people who follow my blogs or podcasts that find me on Facebook and connect with me. However saying that the connections are not strong like what you develop through a blog, ning or twitter. I also tell my students that I am in Facebook and some choose to connect with me using Facebook which has been nice because I learn far more about them then I am able to in class. Then there are the people who you know will only respond to you if you send an email from Facebook.

    Negatives — walled garden, closed network, limited connections, FB email-gmail-FB email how annoying is that. Most the time I can’t be bothered with Facebook.

    Interestingly some of my students who were really into Facebook are now saying they are tired of it.

    When I discussed with Frances how some people really are full on with Facebook she pointed out that often those same people are also full on SMS friends so for those people it is just another form of the type of networking they like to do. Give me twitter any day.

  3. Hi Alan,

    I forced myself into Facebook about two months ago. I gave myself a couple weeks to try it out. I was very underwhelmed at first. After a while, however, I began finding many family and friends, some of whom could have been considered long lost. I now consider myself a regular user, checking in at least once a day.

    This is when I saw the benefit of Facebook, critical mass. Many services have critical mass, but with Facebook’s focus on social networking, they have a leg up on other services. If all, or most, of your audience/family/friends/associates/etc go to one place, you are going to want to be in that place. It simply makes life easier when I don’t have to remember to go to their blog, photo site, video site, and so forth. Instead, it is all sitting on their profile being fed to me.

    However, with that said, I have the same complaints that you have. The doors open in for developers, but not out for my data. They want to be the place people go everyday and keeping the data locked in is their method for doing this. I’m going to guess that this will change in the not too distance future. If they don’t it will make it just that much easier for the next big service to steal their thunder.

    I’d also like to add that I still see there being a potential place for educators in Facebook. The functionality is improving with growing access to tools such as wikis, blogs, and discussion forums (better than their built-ins). The ability to create closed-groups has great potential (though little customization is possible). However, I’ll probably stick with Ning for now 🙂


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