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Andrew's Mailbag A couple of weeks ago, I pondered the implications of Facebook's embrace and extend into the world of email – see Facebook: Privatising the internet, one Poke at a time.

One the one hand, it seems a clear case of one company co-opting internet protocols. On the other hand, these internet protocols haven't kept pace with what people want. They haven't failed merely to keep pace - in fact they haven't moved in 15 years. So why shouldn't Zuckberg think email was just a weird historical appendage, a natural part of the Facebook's communications domain?

I did spot a few flaws in Facebook's logic. And so have you.

“Is it wicked to wish that both of these data-hoarders learn a vital lesson from this? ”?

 

Naw, it will be wicked fun to watch them tripping over each other believing they have all of the answers; but don’t … THEN learning the vital lesson that THEY ALL rise to the level of their peter. Genius loci should be the answer from all of us, to them, about our interest in including and/or excluding whomever we wish from the hood of our passions…   It’s called the POTS book… but it went out of print years ago…

Ken


Some how Mark Zuckerberg reminds me of Agent Smith from The Matrix. He IS genuine, but he IS NOT inventive, he is like Bill Gates. BUT he did not have to build operating systems or any other elementary computer stuff he just poured together what seemed all to promising.

I am personally NOT on Facebook, but thanks to some ingenious acquaintances, who uploaded their address books - I am there now TOO. The best of all, those who try to invite me as a friend on Facebook are mostly those people I wish to never hear from again.

Someone once said: Investing time (as a company trying to sell goods) on Facebook is bad business, except you target students that don't have money. That at first sounded very poor, but listening to other conversations in public transportation was very insightful. Really often I hear teenagers and/or students talking about Facebook in a way to save money. They've got mobiles with data options and save by avoiding the carrier SMS service.

It is just as you stated : not all communication is rated/perceived equal. Not every user cares what gets stored (forever) for him by services like Facebook. A short message (mobile carrier) is not stored for longer than 6 month, not seen by anyone unless I'm a suspect and even then - who cares if some law enforcement guy has a good laugh/entertainment.

I firmly believe Mr. Zuckerberg is simply to young and too inexperienced to value privacy, to have something like respect - just because he did not get thaught these things in his childhood is not an excuse for his current behaviour.

He who thinks privacy is no longer needed, shall step forward and publish his health records, his phone bill (detailed please), etc.

Regards,

Marco


“Is it wicked to wish that both of these data-hoarders learn a vital lesson from this?”

 

Not at all.  Unfortunately the lesson they may decide upon is one of “if you can’t beat them, join them.”  They have each tried to beat the other by aping the other’s services.  I suspect that neither will be terribly successful.  What I fear (though the difference in corporate cultures alone makes it unlikely) is some sort of merger.  Think of the privacy implications alone.  “With your powers combined…”

Trevor


I was a late comer to Web 2.0 in any event.  Anything that gets hyped up instantly puts me off.  That included Myspace, Facebook, the Iphone, call me a ludite - well you may not be far wrong. I held off twitter for the same reason, until a friend with whom I converse in a number of different ways suggested I try it.  I have to admit to being a bit addicted to twitter now, and it has proved somewhat useful, but I know its more about social interaction than serious communications.

Aforementioned friend and I communicate over phone, Skype, email, Twitter, SMS, MMS and even encrypt our emails to each other sometimes - but then we're both techies and still appreciate the ins and outs of different communication formats. (Oh yeah, we do even meet in real life (TM) sometimes.)

The trouble is the great unwashed - or even the non-technical - follow the trends that all their friends do - and that's why these large corporates that have encouraged the young probably will win, despite what those of us who understand a bit more about the underlying cogs would wish.

Neil

Now you might get sniffy about my next correspondent - but please don't. If something works, why chuck it away?

the more i hear of that site/guy, the more i am determined not to join. facebook is just another tobmstone in the graveyard of privacy.

i also avoid google and all other antisocial networking sites. they are not to be trusted at all.

i find the very simple layout of outlook express to be well suited to my needs and do not use webmail at all.

the web/e-mail of all types should only be used for the trivial and impersonal.   regards,

bill henderson


I'm with Bill on that, if not his choice of email client. Besides its other "features", Outlook Express does fetch and send email very quickly and reliably. People know its eccentricities, and know their way around the UI. What's wrong with that?

Speaking of UIs...

"it is a rich and nicely implemented UI"

I never got that. For me, Facebook was truly appalling to use. Never made much sense to me. Couldn't find anything. Deleted my account months ago. One of my Web developer friends tells me that the coding is pretty sleek. I've wondered about a unified inbox for a while and how it might look. How it might function. What does it replace? Hopefully all or most of Tw@tter, e-mail, blogs, micro-blogs, IRC (this includes the various messenger clients), SMS, MMS, video and voice calls.

Will a user be able to create a message and then decide to send it as SMS and/ or e-mail and/or ... etc.?

Ah well, at least I didn't read the word "innovate" in that article.

Adam N


Anybody trying to contact me on Facebook would be lost in the clutter. Give me a subject line where I can immediately relate to the contents, particularly in a business environment.

Ian


That's an interesting point. Why does Zuckie think Subject: lines are A Bad Thing. Because they slow things down. But he also thinks the context is irrelevant - either you're plugged into the 24x7 real-time so you don't need the context, or you provide your own. Presumably, Zuckie wants Facebook to provide all the context you'll ever need.

That smells

That smells like another UI error to me, based on another massive assumption. Or prejudice...

I just wanted to say that I very much enjoyed this article. As somebody who has long been wary of Facebook (and who sticks to email and phone communication as much as possible) I am in agreement that facebook seems to be much more dictatorial about how we communicate than Zuckerberg seems to realize. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too concerned: just as Google Buzz failed to take off, I don't see users taking this "one size fits all" approach seriously. On the other hand, if they do I'm not sure where non-Facebook users like myself will stand. Thus far I have been able to survive on email and the occasional skype-chat, but Im not sure if having my email messages become part of somebodies facebook feed will increase or decrease the likelihood that they will actually be read.

Just like Zuckerburg there is clearly something about Facebook users that I do not understand.

Thanks for the article

Adrian Hall


I enjoy your opinion pieces on the Reg, and thought I would attempt to overcome the considerable friction entailed in writing an email to say keep it up and of course to chuck in my thoughts.

Your point about the value of different communications is well made. There is a lot of noise and chaff, and it's important that we get the stuff we want. There are two points: Facebook managing the flow of all this information is a bit like KFC supplying slimming pills with a bargain bucket.

Second, I think you are being somewhat kind by calling Facebook a rich and nicely implemented UI. I think it was, but by the time FB became a legitimate topic on the Today Programme, it had become bloated and cumbersome. This has happened precisely for the reason that you allude to: they are trying to capture many aspects of social interaction in   a highly contrived and ersatz manner (and of course monetise them).

As an eight year user of facebook, in my view the user experience has massively deteriorated. The mobile apps, which are far more focussed and much closer to older versions of Facebook, seem to be better. Frankly I am so confused by the privacy settings that I don't know who can see what. For anyone that has any sense of their own private space this just is a non starter.

I think this latest email feature is just another layer to this bulging juggernaut that just has to keep innovating, adding features, doing shit and will end up forgetting why it was that people used it in the first place. I think the ultimate result for many will be facebook fatigue (copyright me, 2010) and sustaining engagement levels will be a big issue (particularly once user numbers plateau).

Best wishes,

John Rowland


Good article.  However, Google has at least the advantage that it has not yet been caught with major privacy cockups (although anyone with half a brain cell will realise that at least *some* links to US intelligence will exist).  But I still repeat that it's worth examining chapter 11 of the Google terms of service before you make the decision to use Google..

The challenge for security people is getting people to realise that social <> private - never the mane shall tweet..

P.


Google and Facebook are great North American companies grown up on current technology. Doesn't mean the current is good.

Reference to Tim Berners-Lee' CERN proposal for the protocols (html, http):

"Discussions on Hypertext have sometimes tackled the problem of copyright enforcement and data security. These are of secondary importance at CERN, where information exchange is still more important than secrecy. Authorisation and accounting systems for hypertext could conceivably be designed which are very sophisticated, but they are not proposed here...In cases where reference must be made to data which is in fact protected, existing file protection systems should be sufficient."

This is today's problem and the only solution is to aborb a deeper layer.  

Kind regards,

Dan Andrews


Thank you for your article. I deleted my Facebook account in June. Since then I follow the company's policy maneuvers quite regularly just to make sure nothing crazy going on.

This move zuckerberg is making is very concerning.

As an outsider, I believe this move will isolate me even more as a non-user, and will make it more difficult to communicate to insiders. You mentioned this in your article. Facebookers are trapped in their world, and I feel this will keep them inside for longer.

I am a philosophy undergrad at UBC, and it baffles me the extent to which people give up their lives to this beast.

How far will the company have to go before people realize their lives are severely influenced by this virtual world? How much longer will facebook have to pillage private data in the name of social media but turn around and hand it to advertisers before people wake up to this practice?

I guess it's the times we live in.. But give up facebook for a week.. And your life will change.

Regards, Patrick


Brilliant,   Loved the Web2.0rhea and you are spot (not to be confused with MS SPOT) on.   This has all gotten a little bit out of hand. IMHO, Facebook will go the same way My Space did which is about a third of what it was "makeover" and all.    There are quite a few strange bedfellows on the field which appears to be a type of keiretsu with the common thread being Marc Andreessen. Except for Bing and Microsoft Web Apps. Marc being on the board of all except the latter two. SKYPE, Facebook and RocketMelt.   Historically, it almost feels like the latter 1990's with a bubble in the works and "what's your existing strategy".   They might be providing some entertainment for a bit but in my opinion they are not providing what the end user actually wants.

Best Regards,

H M Hayes


[but how can 250m people be wrong? FB must be doing something right. I'm just curious if people would pay for it; alongside a newspaper sub]

Thanks for a good, thoughtful piece on e-mail and subversion of same  by people with more avarice than sense,

However, please get rid of that animated envelope: I find all animated stuff on largely textual pages distracting and therefore irritating.

For the same reason, any animated ads on pages I visit more than once or twice go straight into my browser's ad blocker: IOW anybody hoping for income or site support cash from ads on pages I visit regularly will be out of luck if the ads jiggle.

Regards,

Martin Gregorie

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