Facebook: The New AOL?

This morning Jeff Pulver asks whether Facebook has become the new AOL which led to a sudden (though brief) aha! for me.

Perhaps this is why I don’t get it as much as I think I should. There are many more non-techies here than in other groups in which I’ve participated – it’s definitely got more mass appeal.

There’s been such a recent rush lately it’s amazing, but the more I’ve used it the more I just don’t see the value for me. Sure I can find some interesting people on there, but they also exist elsewhere and in many other social groups. The apps seem like more of a timesuck or annoyance really with the number of invitations to add things you get. People’s profile pages are better offer better layout than MySpace for sure, but why do I want to spend time there?

  • I can aggregate some of my life stream – also doing that with a vastly greater degree of interactivity and discussion on Jaiku.

  • I can get in touch with people I’ve not spoken to in a long time? No – not finding it very helpful there.

  • I see my friends add themselves to groups that sound interesting and I join, but often there’s no actual discussion – just joiners. If I did not already share my videos and photos elsewhere it might be fun for that, but who doesn’t already have these other places.

  • I can message people I might want to network with? Perhaps, but I actually have plenty of other ways to get in touch.

Facebook seems more like a digital playground (schoolyard perhaps at recess) than something that provides value back. What am I missing here?

5 Replies to “Facebook: The New AOL?”

  1. More of my thoughts about Facebook can be found over at: http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/007143.html

    I agree about the time suck. But I wonder if we are not watching something evolve into something else that will become bigger than ever imagined. Is Facebook becoming the Internet Portal of 2008 ready to take on everyone else? Not sure. But with it’s innate mesh-up abilities, it can offer access to many new features and functions as fast as developers decide to integrate them into the platform. So this is a different kind of portal. a portal developed by the people for the people. well sort of. I’m also still trying to figure this out. And finding my own ah! moments.

  2. Thanks for the comment… hard to see where it’s going, but I suppose that’s part of the master plan for now. I guess I’ll just have to stay connected with it as it grows – just like everyone else. It’s definitely something to watch.

  3. Looks like Jeremy at LIVEdigitally shares your sentiment ( http://www.livedigitally.com/2007/06/24/how-social-networks-are-devaluing-friendship/ ). However, I offer an opposing view:

    I think the point that a lot of the bloggers are missing about Facebook (and other social networks) is that not all “friends” are as tech savvy as they are or have as many multiple website profiles as they do. A site like Facebook, in my opinion, encourages people to stake a claim on the net and provides a mechanism for users to update all their close friends, acquaintances, and co-workers with their latest pics, videos, notes (actual notes – not RSS feed blog entries), and profile updates. Facebook also gives users a window into their friends lives (i.e. personal interests, relationship status, upcoming events, work situation, work experience, etc.) at any given moment in single convenient location.

    As for adding acquaintances along side real friends, I don’t think that it’s much of a problem. In fact, all of your friends at one point were acquaintances who later morphed into close friends. Plus, having the ability to join networks on Facebook gives you a key to people who you most likely wouldn’t have access to or known how to contact otherwise.

  4. “Hard to see where it’s going,” is about right. My opinion of Facebook has been on a roller coaster. At first, I found it hard to see what all the excitement was about. Then, with the launch of f8, I got excited by the possibilities. But, so far, I’ve been underwhelmed by the apps taking to the platform. I am more than willing to accept that I may just not be in a position to “get it” right now. But I am baffled at why all the early-adapters are so hyped up on it when, as you say, it doesn’t do anything they haven’t already been doing elsewhere for some time.

  5. Jonathan, I agree entirely. I thought it was just me! Adding further streams for communication with friends or acquaintances makes managing said communication so much more complex. Maybe folk should just pick up the phone a little more? At least that way you get to control who with and when you interact with people and maintain some modicum of privacy.

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