Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why I Don't Spend More Time On Facebook


I've been sort of neglecting my Facebook account lately. Sure, I'll add the occasional friend here and there, but as far as actively doing stuff, updating things, interacting with people, I've been on sort of a hiatus period. Which is really unfortunate, because when I first signed up (way back in Oct), I was genuinely excited about being able to add custom applications to my profile and share them with others. Apps like Scrabulous and Super Poke, which allowed me to casually interact with my friends at my own leisure. But as the site began to hit critical mass (amongst my friends), and I started to see more and more requests coming my way, I guess I sort of lost interest. That fresh new feeling wore off and it stopped seeming less like leisure and a little more like work.

Well, it's been almost six months since I joined Facebook (a little over a year since it was officially opened up to everyone), and that time has given me the insight I needed to understand exactly why I left Facebook, and every other SocNet before it..

Give me something meaningful to do. Every website needs something to draw the user in. For most sites, the web traffic is usually driven by page views to various bits of content, be it news, articles, videos, interactive forums, or the like. With social networks, it's a slightly different can of worms. Usually the main draw is in either joining existing friends or making new ones. And the content that continues to bring you to the site is largely user generated from your inner-circle of acquaintances . But apart from spending virtual time with friends, there's not much more you can do that you couldn't do with a good email and IM client. What about combining the draw of content from blogs and other sites into the mix? The closest thing I can think of is Google's RSS Reader. You can funnel all your daily web content into one place and still share interesting stories with all your friends. But what if you could also leave comments on those stories so your only your friends could see? This would certainly help me stay connected and still get my daily RSS fix.

Make adding custom apps effortless. I really admire being able to add my own Facebook apps, share them with friends, etc., but I really hate having to "install" them. It's the web, the whole point of having an online web app is to not be bothered by some invasive installation process. I know, it only takes a few clicks, but why force me to add something to my profile before I've even tried it out yet? The internet is all about instant access, previewing things beforehand, and the freedom to view short snips before reading the lengthy text. Why not give me the option of checking whatever it is my friend sent me on some sub-domain page first, then I can decide if I want to clutter my personal profile page later.

Give me more ways to post content. Just like Reason #1 up there, I don't always want to be bothered with logging in all the time. Sometimes I've on the go and am not near a computer. Sometimes I'm busy and simply don't have time. And sometimes I'm just lazy, or all of the above.. So give me options here. Let me change my status message via text message, email or even link my Twitter account. Allow me to check on my updates and possibly my friend's updates in email, an RSS feed, heck even simple text messages, but give me lots of options for exactly how much or how little I want to know. Maybe even allow me to setup automated scripts that check other web sources I contribute to, like maybe posting that I've updated my blog, beat a crazy song in Rock Band, posted a new YouTube video, or shared new pictures to my Flickr account. The main thing here is that I want these things to just show up on my profile. No hassle. No having to post things twice.

I guess what I'm really looking for with all these changes is a social network that's also an aggregate service, able to cull my entire web experience into one place, neatly and easily. One that works for me, and at the same time keeps me connected. So that I don't have to worry about the content updates, and can just spend that time actually interacting with my friends instead. Well, look at it on the bright side.. at least now I have more time to spend enjoying games!

1 comment:

blake said...

Good thoughts. I work at Facebook and would love to chat with you. Couldn't find an e-mail; drop me a line at blake@firefox.com?