What were people expecting out of Facebook?

Cory Doctorow, “You can help the web be better in 2018: just ditch Facebook and use your browser instead“, Boing Boing

Foster Kamer, “The 2018 internet resolution everyone should have: Forget Facebook“, Mashable


I wonder: what were people expecting out of Facebook? I always looked at Facebook the way Kurt Vonnegut looked at existence in Man Without a Country: “We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

I think that’s a result of starting on Facebook back in 2004 in college, when you had to have a .edu email address to join. At the beginning it was just a text entry. “Kirk Kittell is” was fixed—a literal “what are you doing?” More or less, that’s the baseline of what I’m looking for in the site. I just want to see what people are doing. 14 years on the site, and now I have connections with friends from high school, college, early work days, the summer at ISU in France, people I met while traveling in India, some of my wife’s business school friends. It’s clearly the best way to keep in touch with such a range of people. There is no similar substitute that’s that easy. I don’t think all of the people I know should make their own web sites. It might be interesting if they did, but even if they created them I think most of them would stop maintaining them anyway. And I don’t think I’d be able to maintain checking all of them. That’s life.

But as for one of the main points, stepping back to using the browser bar and bookmarks to get to content—I’m down with that. I’ve been getting back to it myself. Google killing Reader seems to have damped the use of RSS for news, but I get plenty of it through Feedly. Getting news from Facebook and Twitter is garbage. It’s rigged. As it should be. Their job is to make you want to go to them for whatever it is that they’re selling. That’s obviously the pitch.

Back, back, back in the day there were webrings. Do you know what those are? Congratulations. You’re old. They were amateur and interesting ways to find amateur and sometimes interesting sites. (John Scott, “Whatever Happened to… Webrings“; “What Ever Happened to Webrings?“, Hover.)

I don’t remember where I was going with this. Whatever it was, it devolved into some variation of: things were better when we were younger.

I don’t believe it was all that much better—there was a lot of crap—but there are a few things I’d like back which have dropped off along the way. Web site discovery via other web sites is one of them. Webrings were super cheesy. They can stay on the shelf. But I think I’m going to bring back my /links page.

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