What’s up with Facebook these days? I have been only dimly aware (and slightly dismissive) of Facebook for years but all of a sudden (like in the space of a week) everyone I know has joined. I am not the radical free thinker that I sometimes like to portray, so I followed the crowd and joined up.
Facebook spent so much on R&D and server farms that they only had 45 cents left over to design a logo
It turns out there are some things to really like about Facebook. One of the reasons for having this website was to share photos and keep people up to date on what I was doing – Facebook fills both needs better than my own homebrewed solutions. The in-built tools are simple but effective for their designed purpose – to exchange small pieces of information with people you know. The third-party apps (a brilliant idea in themselves) range from annoying to quite useful; I intend to investigate the API to see how it all fits together.
There are some annoyances. I can’t figure out how to link directly to my profile, and it seems that only people with Facebook accounts can see it anyway. There are almost too many optional things you can include in your profile, but the layout of the profile itself is not very flexible. Sometimes the sheer amount of information that comes pouring in from people you know can get out of hand, but it can be nice to know what books other people have just finished. My guess is that Facebook is making a fortune from mining the valuable demographic data that millions of people are busy collecting about themselves.
I am still playing around with the Facebook settings, it is ridiculously customisable. In particular, I am looking at a better way of getting my blog entries automatically attached to my profile. Currently I have it importing Notes directly from my RSS feed, but I am not sure there isn’t a better way.
Together with iGoogle, it seems that nearly all my email, news reading and contacts are provided by web-apps that are better designed and simpler to use than any similar client based software. Perhaps its time to dust off the old php manual if I want to be employed in ten years time.