Monday, old, and insufficiently paranoid

Which is to say:

  • It’s Monday as I write this, with all that implies.
  • I’m not that old, but possibly calmer–or just slower–than when I was a mere child of, say, 55.
  • And, responding to the Oh Noo! FaceBook Acquired FriendFeed! We’re Dooooomed! comments (and the news itself), I find that I’m insufficiently paranoid.

In other words, I’m not looking to flee FriendFeed just yet. (Yes, I have a FaceBook account–and yes, I have a lot more “friends” on FaceBook than I have followers on FriendFeed: that’s the way things go. Also, yes, I treat FaceBook with considerable caution, ignoring every cause/gift/thingie invitation…and probably spend more than ten times as much time on FF as on FB.)

Why so calm?

Because I don’t see the point of panic at this stage of the game, and I’m too tired to panic anyway.
After all, I haven’t spent a dime on FF. Sure, there’s “original content” there–probably hundreds of comments and posts that don’t appear anywhere else. None of which amounts to much in the grand scheme of things, or even in my odd little web universe.
The “maybe the sky’s just a little overcast, not falling” story–that is, that FB’s mostly buying FF for its talent and can readily afford to just leave FF alone–makes sense. And, you know, FF serves as a nice escape hatch for FB users who become overwhelmed with the glitz and sheer mass of FB. It probably doesn’t cost a lot to keep going, and I suspect a few modest little ads wouldn’t disturb users that much.
FB says they have no plans to shut FF down. Do I take them at their word?
Not necessarily–but if not, then what? Do I rush out to join another social medium (there are plenty to choose from)? Been there, done that, generally wasn’t pleased with the results–but times and social media change. Do I rush away from FF because I think it’s going away anyway? Why? How would my leaving somehow benefit me or avoid damage if FF does go away? It’s not like being a passenger in a car crash, after all…
Of course, that’s just me. Maybe for you, this is terrible, horrible news that requires major action right now. (Or maybe you’ve never heard of FF anyway–I think one reason it may work better is because it only has a million or so users.) In which case, if you’re one of the six dozen or so who I directly follow, well, I might miss you…but then, maybe you’ll start blogging again, and that might not be a bad thing.
And if you’re about to write a post saying “FriendFeed is dead…” ah, but that’s another post–or, rather, a magazine column, and it’s one I’m working on. (No, FriendFeed doesn’t appear in the title. The column should appear in December.)

5 Responses to “Monday, old, and insufficiently paranoid”

  1. oscar zoalaster Says:

    I’m pretty apathetic about this because I still have not figured out what either FriendFeed or Facebook is good for.
    They both partially replicate email and blogs, but I don’t see anything about either of them that is an improvement over either email or a blog. The interface in both cases seems rather clumsy and confusing, with lots of unclear terms. (For example, what is a ‘friend’ on Facebook? The numbers of ‘Friends’ that some folks claim to have pretty clearly demonstrates that the usage of the word on Facebook and the usage in real life are not at all the same.)
    So, what are FriendFeed, Facebook, and the other ‘social networking tools’ actually for, and why do they seem to be so popular? What value do people get out of them? (And how can people manage to spend ‘hours’ on them?) People apparently think these things are useful, but I have no clue why, or what value they get out of them? What am I missing?

  2. Walt Crawford Says:

    If others wish to tell Oscar what they find more valuable from FF or FB, please do. For me, FF offers threaded conversations that appear to flow more naturally than via either blogs or email–but for me, FF doesn’t replace either one. (Actually, FF and other tools have probably replaced many short-form blogs, ones where posts were mostly links. I think that’s a good thing, overall.) I don’t find the FF user interface either clumsy or confusing, but that’s me.
    I’m not a “lifestreamer” so some of those supposed wonders of FF don’t apply to me. As for FB–well, I wanted to see what it’s like, I’m only an occasional dropin, and it seems to work very well for friends & family to stay in touch on an offhand basis (and for lots of other things).
    I certainly agree that, for example, having 40,000 “followers” or 100,000 “friends” seems, well, silly.
    For both–and, I think, more for FB–”useful” may not be the key for a lot of people. And I’ll stop there.

  3. oscar zoalaster Says:

    I think much of my confusion about the sites is that they largely involve interacting with strangers, but there is no acknowledgment of this. Instead the people one is interacting with are referred to as ‘friends’ and as ‘followers’…which strikes me as deeply inaccurate.
    I’m fine with emailing my real-life friends, and often do so. I also write a couple of blogs that various of my friends and acquaintances know about and sometimes read. But both ‘Friendfeed’ and ‘Facebook’ with its emphasis on ‘Friends’ are more than a bit off-putting because of how they gloss over the fact that one is interacting with people that one does not know.
    I am far more comfortable posting a note here where it is acknowledged that this is a group of strangers interacting with each other for reasons unrelated to their possible relationships with each other than I would be posting a note on ‘Friendfeed’ or ‘Facebook’ where the relationship is supposedly so very important….but the interaction is actually with strangers whom I have very little to absolutely no relationship with.
    It is just really creepy to have strangers referred to as ‘friends’, it makes me worried about what I am being conned into……or if I am committing some horrible social blunder because I have no comprehension of how/why ‘strangers’ are ‘friends’….and if I am supposed to be treating strangers as friends (which I know from experience is a very very foolish thing to do), that raises the question of how much I can trust the people whom I really do think are my friends….maybe they are really strangers too….

  4. Walt Crawford Says:

    Oscar: I guess the key response is that maybe FB and FF aren’t right for you.
    More specifically, though, FF’s term is precisely correct: Followers are those who have chosen to follow your items. You only follow people if you choose to, and you can always get a list of who they are. The porosity gained through people you *do* follow liking or commenting on stuff from people you *don’t* follow is, to me, a virtue of FF–but it’s always pretty clear what’s going on.
    Yes, “friends” is a simplistic term, but you do get to choose who you regard as “friends” in FB; you only deal with strangers if you choose to. I know people, much more active on FB than I am, who reject most “friends” suggestions. If I used it more, I might as well.
    But, again, if it doesn’t work for you, don’t use it–at least that would be my practice.

  5. Steven Kaye Says:

    I think any online community would (and many have) seen similar drama – certainly I remember drama over the potential for BBSes to shut down.
    I’m toying with setting up a website, porting media of various sorts into it and allowing for comments at the paragraph level with digress.it, honestly. Sort of a roll-your-own aggregator. I play with various services, and none of them really meet my needs 100% (LiveJournal comes the closest).


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