Software may reduce humans, but there are degrees. Fiction reduces humans, too, but bad fiction does it more than good fiction, and we have the option to read good fiction. Jaron Lanier’s point is that Web 2.0 “lock-in” happens soon; is happening; has to some degree already happened. And what has been “locked in”? It feels important to remind ourselves, at this point, that Facebook, our new beloved interface with reality, was designed by a Harvard sophomore with a Harvard sophomore’s preoccupations. What is your relationship status? (Choose one. There can be only one answer. People need to know.) Do you have a “life”? (Prove it. Post pictures.) Do you like the right sort of things? (Make a list. Things to like will include: movies, music, books and television, but not architecture, ideas, or plants.)
But here I fear I am becoming nostalgic. I am dreaming of a Web that caters to a kind of person who no longer exists. A private person, a person who is a mystery, to the world and—which is more important—to herself. Person as mystery: this idea of personhood is certainly changing, perhaps has already changed.
Matt Haughey wrote an essay called Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook.
There’s no memory at Twitter: everything is fleeting. Though that concept may seem daunting to some (archivists, I feel your pain), it also means the content in my feed is an endless stream of new information,…
One of the things that fascinates me is the way a lot of young people seem to use Tumblr, which is basically as a positive, aspirational alternative to the social networking institution they’re accustomed to: Facebook. Rather than forcing them to represent themselves as they are, which I think is Facebook’s major goal, Tumblr allows them to represent the romantic self (or selves) they wish to be. I think this is a big part of the intense emotional attachment a lot of people seem to have to Tumblr.
Facebook is currently #1 in terms of time spent online, but Tumblr recently became #2. I think this is because they both appeal to intense human desires, but I would argue that off the two Tumblr appeals to the more positive.
I have been off Facebook for one week. I was one of Facebook’s early adopters in the U.S., having been lured into it by my English colleagues in early 2007 when it was all the rage in London media. (True story: I had just emailed a story to my British editor on mergers and acquisitions, and he…
But the fear, at least in my case, is less about Facebook’s relentless invasion of users’ privacy, and more about how its thirst for greater user engagement is making the service unwieldy and bloated.
facebook is an extraordinary company but this quote rings true for me.
… Microsoft commoditized PC hardware because its software needed a home. Companies that contribute heavily to open-source, such as modern-day IBM, commoditize software because they sell consulting and support services. Google commoditizes applications, platforms, and web technologies because it needs places to put its ads and people to see them. (Google also tries to commoditize anything required to get online: web browsers, DNS, and in some cases, even internet connectivity.) Apple commoditizes apps to make iPhones and iPads more attractive (and exclusive). Nobody “opens” the parts of their business that make them money, maintain barriers to competitive entry, or otherwise provides significant competitive advantages. That’s why Android’s basic infrastructure is “open”, but all of Google’s important applications and services for it aren’t — Google doesn’t care about the platform and doesn’t want it to matter. Google’s effectively asserting that the basic parts of a modern OS — the parts that are open in Android — are all good enough, relatively similar, and no longer competitively meaningful. Nobody’s going to steal marketshare from Google by making a better kernel or windowing API on their competing smartphone platform, regardless of whether they borrowed any of Android’s “open” components or ideas derived from them. But Google’s applications and services are locked down, because those are vulnerable to competition, do provide competitive advantages, and are nowhere near being commoditized.