Facebook - Where Do I Start?
Let's start with where it is all going wrong, then get to what should happen then. The original business model, that people would pay money to send crap pictures of gifts to people instead of the real thing, how does that work? People try facebook, and the ones that leave in the first week do so because they haven't figured how to weed out all the applications friends use bombarding them with scores and requests. You log in, facebook is full of annoying junk, you walk away.
Even now, with my friends list kept very short, and most of them hidden from the posting page, I still get junk from the handful that are allowed to go on the front page. Where is my hide option? Per game. Do they play the same damn mindless game twice running? No, there are thousands of them. My banned game list (look at the bottom of your Facebook page to see it) is now hundreds long, and yet the same people fill my page with new crap every day. Why can I not ban games outright for a person, because they only play rubbish I hate, and leave useful suggestions from like minded people?
Then we get to the stability issues, at busy times i.e. when we actually want to use it. When I am out of town I like to keep in touch with friends and family via it, but boy does it let me down. Because they know I use it, they assume it is a good way to message me. Oooops, it isn't. I spent two days waiting for it to be able to show me a message or even any idea who it was from. It turned out to be a work message about lost passwords. I know they should have called or emailed, but they didn't understand Facebook is unstable beta-ware at the moment. Everyone advises you to use Facebook, Twitter etc. for business but it doesn't seem to be business grade.
Other problems for me are with the chat and notifiation windows. The notify box comes up and tells me someone commented on a post. I click on it and go to the post, but the rest of Facebook hasn't caught up yet and doesn't display it, sometimes for another 30-40 minutes by which time I have forgotten it. If I am lucky that is, the other option is it reminds me every 5 minutes but doesn't show the post for hours. The chat window says someone is online, so you connect, they say hello, you type a message back but it tells you they are then offline. Then they send you another line, and it repeats that they are offline when you try to reply. And so on. They seem to have a distributed system that doesn't really work that well in talking with itself. Sometimes friends post on my page, but Facebook doesnt have a name or photo or any details for them, so I have no idea who said it. Sometimes when looking to get in touch with someone I click on the "all friends list" to find that, sadly, I have none at all.
People still seem to want a general place of contact with friends and work, but Facebook isn't sure that is the business it is in. It still wants to make money out of the awful games and addons, when a (probable) majority of its users aren't interested in that kind of site after the first week. Why do they use it? Because it can do what they really want as well, and few other places have the momentum. If you want to track down friends you try Facebook first as it is the likeliest option. So it is in the uncomfortable position of being number one in a field it never really wanted to be in, and still doesn't understand, with flaky software being cobbled to do the new tasks on the fly.
Most people with an internet connection use it primarily to communicate and always have, Facebook was thought up by students (with all that goes with that) and no real connection to the type of users it would inevitably attract and what they wanted it to do. What we want is a genuine social network letting us reach out through contacts we know to others we used to know, without being told how many cows they bought on a farm and how bad they are at scrabble.
But where would the money come from that way? I think it is inevitable to move to subscription models for some things, but no one has made it work yet. Maybe when the music companies finally agree contracts that kind of financing through your ISP will take hold. But who would pay for something that isn't quite right like Facebook? They really do run on a handful of pence per user average, so it would be neglible on your monthly bill. Part of the financing could put their servers in the ISP saving some bandwidth costs and delays. The amount of irritating intrusive apps could fall. And maybe the people driven away could come back once a year and notice how much better it was. Then that friend you have no other contact details for might stay around long enough to find your message in the new calm waters, instead of losing it entirely in a sea of dross about rubbish games.