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Facefacts, a blog post by Jason Scott
June 8, 2011 2:09 PM   Subscribe

"[T]he fact that anyone would put anything of any unique nature on there, that matters to them, is beyond insanity – it’s identity suicide." Digital age historian and Metafilter's own Jason Scott on Facebook.
posted by The Devil Tesla (147 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Reminds me of Slashdot
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:16 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, this is an awful post. I love Archive Team and I deeply respect everything jscott's done, but this incoherent, spittle-flecked, sub-RMS-at-his-worst rant is designed only to flatter the prejudices of people who really don't need any more flattering. Stick to archiving, please.
posted by nasreddin at 2:19 PM on June 8, 2011 [23 favorites]


Holy hot green text.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


This article crystallizes my nearly irrational hatred of Facebook the way that Michael Moorcock's essay, Epic Pooh, crystallized my similar feelings about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


[x]Like [ ] Comment [ ] Share
posted by The otter lady at 2:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do people actually treat Facebook like a repository? Most of my contacts (who are by and large 25+ years old) seem to repost things to Facebook from elsewhere, precisely because there is basically no decent way to go back and find stuff that's older than 24 hours old. As in, "Hey, I'll post copies of my wedding photos to facebook so my friends can see them," not "Hey, I'll host all of my wedding photos on Facebook so I can keep coming back to look at them in the years to come!"
posted by usonian at 2:21 PM on June 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


That's the best use of Malibu Stacy as a rhetorical device that I've ever seen.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:21 PM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, I don't use Facebook myself but I think that it might be a bit misplaced to presume that users should expect to enjoy some kind of permanent and searchable life history with it. That seems to be the main thrust of his criticism.

Facebook is only a bit more permanent than a fart, so if someone wants to keep a good journal there are tons of other options.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:22 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


(If any of you are actually concerned with archiving your Facebook information as opposed to posturing about how much better you are than all those gross plebes who post about their children, I encourage you to go to "Account Settings" and click "Download your information." Do this regularly and you're no worse off than if you were keeping your info in any other format.)
posted by nasreddin at 2:23 PM on June 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


One can never underestimate the near pathological cravings of the look-at-me-I'm-so-fucking-alt demographic's need to divine its special snowflakeness by its "hatred" of [insert popular subject here]. Oh, whatever. Let's just go to a burlesque show and everything'll be alright.
posted by dantsea at 2:26 PM on June 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


From the post:

Everything on Facebook is Now. Nothing, and I mean nothing on Facebook is Then. Or even last month.

So asking me about the archiving-ness or containering or long-term prospect of Facebook for anything, the answer is: none. None. Not a whit or a jot or a tiddle. It is like an ever-burning fire of our memories, gleefully growing as we toss endless amounts of information and self and knowledge into it, only to have it added to columns of advertiser-related facts we do not see and do not control and do not understand.

posted by honest knave at 2:27 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Facebook's ephemerality is not a bug, it's a feature.

There are other Internet Products™ out there that are nicely searchable, indexable, and end up making nice pretty archives on archive.org. Anyone who wants to keep something for the indefinite future, there's one simple (though not free) solution: buy your own damn domain and make your own damn site.
posted by chimaera at 2:30 PM on June 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


There's a huge difference between look-at-me-I'm-so-fucking-alt's need to hate [insert popular subject] and a well-reasoned dissection of a technology that people are either too myopic or too stupid to grok how crappy it is for humanity. This is the latter.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:30 PM on June 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


I think that it might be a bit misplaced to presume that users should expect to enjoy some kind of permanent and searchable life history with it

This is not a facebook-specific problem. We have to assume that the lifespan of anything online will be short. That's what recent history tells us (see Google Videos). Perhaps that will start to change -- maybe wikipedia will still be here 20 years from now -- but at the moment anything online should be considered ephemeral.

Offsite backups for anything you post online are a must if you want to keep your memorables safe for the long term.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:31 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


To me it read like this:
Q: [question]
A: [rant][rant][rant][rant][rant][rant][rant][rant][rant][rant][ranty sort-of answer to question][rant][rant][rant].
posted by rocket88 at 2:31 PM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


dissection of a technology that people are either too myopic or too stupid to grok how crappy it is for humanity.

I'm gonna have to disagree with you.

"Damn, this tool don't work like I want it to, it's the bad for humanity, and right up there with viruses and malware as being actively destructive."

No, it's a tool that doesn't work like you want it to. Find another one, and you'll feel less grar in your life.
posted by chimaera at 2:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


I started skimming after I saw "mouthbreathers".
posted by Evernix at 2:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


Everything on Facebook is Now. Nothing, and I mean nothing on Facebook is Then. Or even last month.

So asking me about the archiving-ness or containering or long-term prospect of Facebook for anything, the answer is: none. None. Not a whit or a jot or a tiddle. It is like an ever-burning fire of our memories, gleefully growing as we toss endless amounts of information and self and knowledge into it, only to have it added to columns of advertiser-related facts we do not see and do not control and do not understand.


Again, this is demonstrably false and shows that he didn't even bother to do the slightest bit of research before jerking his knee as hard as he could. How many other sites (besides Metafilter) let you download all your information on request at the click of a button? How is Facebook any more ephemeral than any other site? Back in the day, I used to post on the Punk Planet forums--and aside from the crappy and very very incomplete Internet Archive copy of the pages, my posts are now permanently gone and unretrievable. Anything I posted on Facebook six years ago--only slightly more recently--is accessible whenever I want to look at it.
posted by nasreddin at 2:35 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mmmm, someone said there's stew in here... what? Oh, never mind.
posted by not_on_display at 2:35 PM on June 8, 2011


"Facebook is only a bit more permanent than a fart"

Erm... no it's not. This screed might be misguided, but an ever-growing pulsating identity data collector with future potential to be mined in whothefuckknowsyet ways is not a brief expulsion of bodily gas.
posted by panaceanot at 2:35 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use Facebook, in other words, like a search tool on human beings. For that, it is really great.

But the fact that anyone would put anything of any unique nature on there, that matters to them, is beyond insanity – it’s identity suicide


Isn't Facebook as a people-search tool "really great" only if its users provide the uniquely-identifying information which, according to the author, leads to some kind of nebulous "identity suicide"?

And if you're using Facebook or any other third-party product or service as the sole guardian of your valuable data, then you're doing it wrong.
posted by xbonesgt at 2:35 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just use Facebook to post stupid links, and to keep in touch with family and friends. Sometimes I post photos.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:36 PM on June 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Identity suicide, you say? Only if your identity is what you post on Facebook. The hero of Memento may have been better off using Facebook. At least he could leave more clues than he could have on his skin alone.
posted by JJ86 at 2:36 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Facebook now stands as taking over a decade and a half of the dream of the World Wide Web and turning it into a miserable IT cube farm of pseudo human interaction, a bastardized form of e-mail, of mailing lists, of photo albums, of friendship."

Huh?

Everyone I know who uses Facebook uses it for quickly touching base with folks we rarely hear from and don't really stay in touch with. The idea that this one website, devoted mainly to ephemeral hooha, has any effect at all on the "dream of the World Wide Web" is straight up silly.

If need something to be permanent I post it someplace permanent. So does everyone I know on Facebook.

If I have something in-depth or important to talk about I actually go talk to people. So does everyone I know on Facebook.

And when I need to email something, I email it. So does everyone I know on Facebook.

Someone needs to switch to decaf I think.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:37 PM on June 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


tg:dr
posted by Thorzdad at 2:38 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am so fed up with people using those ridiculous hammer things. Have you ever seen one of those shit-for-brains hammers turn a screw? No? It's because hammers are the fucking worst thing ever made. That's why.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:39 PM on June 8, 2011 [27 favorites]


That's easily the most self-important point-missing rant I've seen all week.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:40 PM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Facebook is the third of what is probably a quartet (or quintet) of the destruction of the innocence of computing. First was viruses, second was malware, third is facebook.

Destruction of innocence? I like the idea that TCP/IP and the world wide web are noble savages simply awaiting the unstoppable tide of civilisation, but the analogy to the "wild west" knowingly living outside the realm of accepted law and order seems more appropriate.

Both models are, in any case, unsustainable in the long term.
posted by three blind mice at 2:40 PM on June 8, 2011


How many other sites (besides Metafilter) let you download all your information on request at the click of a button? How is Facebook any more ephemeral than any other site?

quoted for truth; favorited for the Punk Planet mention.

I miss the magazine.
posted by dubold at 2:43 PM on June 8, 2011


Horselover Phattie: "Facebook is only a bit more permanent than a fart, so if someone wants to keep a good journal there are tons of other options.
"

facebook allegedly keeps all of your old passwords, just in case. That's a lot more permanent than farts, man.
posted by boo_radley at 2:45 PM on June 8, 2011


This article crystallizes my nearly irrational hatred of Facebook - yeah, me too. I have a certain compassion (not quite the right word, but somewhere in that neighborhood) for my friends (etc) who are all about the Facebook, but this is kinda close to my underlying feelings. For all that some of the rant is eye-rolling, this is the core of it for me:
Facebook actively and constantly changes up the game, makes things more intrusive, couldn’t give less of a shit about your identity, your worth, your culture, your knowledge, your humanity, or even the cohesive maintenance of what makes you you. [emphasis mine]
It's less about the ephemeral nature of the thing than the total disregard for the users. Although on the whole I'm more ambivalent than anything else, except when I'm creeped out.

when I need to email something, I email it. So does everyone I know on Facebook. - then you are luckier than I. Party invites in particular seem to have completely migrated to Facebook, and I have one friend who really I can only be sure to reach if I use Facebook or text messages. :\
posted by epersonae at 2:46 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The idea that anyone would put anything that matters anywhere in "the cloud" (I'm sorry) without keeping it backed up in-house is insane, certainly. But who does that? Anyone dumb enough not to keep personal backups of stuff that really matters deserves to lose it. As for "identity suicide", what does that even mean? Is this some sort of paranoia about people finding your personal shit out? Eh. If you care about that, don't do it. If you don't, do. Or don't. It matters not.

This seems like pointlessly hyped up fake plastic paranoia. And what's with the green-on-black bullshit? I'm not going to be too kindly disposed to your arguments about web protocol and practice if you pull retina-crippling Internet 0.1 shit like that.
posted by Decani at 2:48 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a huge difference between look-at-me-I'm-so-fucking-alt's need to hate [insert popular subject] and a well-reasoned dissection of a technology that people are either too myopic or too stupid to grok how crappy it is for humanity. This is the latter.

Well thank goodness someone who knows better descended from the heavens to tell the rest of us in a blogrant that a website where Grandma asks Sally about the meaning of Forever Alone and Me Gusta Guy is going to ruin humanity. I tried to work the word histrionics in here, but it just wouldn't cooperate, so here it is on its own: Histrionics.
posted by dantsea at 2:50 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Facebook is like running into someone on a street corner. You make small talk that you don't expect to stick with a bunch of people you can't be bothered/don't like quite enough to see otherwise.

I don't respect Facebook as a company, I think their privacy settings and decisions around it can be pretty dumb. But in the end Facebook is just a tool and I think it works well for things like party invites or keeping in touch with people you might not otherwise.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 2:50 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


chimaera: “I'm gonna have to disagree with you. ‘Damn, this tool don't work like I want it to, it's the bad for humanity, and right up there with viruses and malware as being actively destructive.’ No, it's a tool that doesn't work like you want it to. Find another one, and you'll feel less grar in your life.”

Unless that tool is hopelessly broken for what it's supposed to do – store human relationships. And unless that tool becomes so ubiquitous that for the vast majority of human beings out there, it's the only one being used. And unless you are an archivist or librarian or someone else who has a similar drive to archive important information and preserve it in the appropriate way.

In that case, uh, you're probably going to have just as much grar in your life.

My point is that "you don't like this tool, find another tool" is not a useful response when the whole point is that this "tool" is the one being used by all of our friends and all of our family – and that they're worse off for it.
posted by koeselitz at 2:51 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


> But who does that? Anyone dumb enough not to keep personal backups of stuff that really matters deserves to lose it.

"real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)"
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:53 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unless that tool is hopelessly broken for what it's supposed to do – store human relationships.

It's called Facebook, not StoreHumanRelationshipsBook. Now you might have bought whatever shuck and jive the social media have been spewing about how the site is somehow about "stor[ing] human relationships" but just because Facebook can be taken for off-label purposes doesn't mean that they ever signed up to do anything but make money by aggregating a critical mass of people socially interacting with each other so that other people can target advertising toward them.
posted by chimaera at 2:57 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


How is Facebook any more ephemeral than any other site?

A lot of sites offer a search function and some kind of archive to search through. Facebook literally only has scrolling down. That's about as ephemeral as 4chan.

Look, I posted this not knowing that facebook has a backup option (which I am now using, and that makes me really happy) but I would have posted it anyway even if I knew about it. The way that Facebook pushes it's users to use it is as the center of your digital life, the exact way that a lot of people keep saying that no one uses it as. With everyone using it this way a lot of people's personal history is set far beyond their control. That's something worth getting mad about.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 2:57 PM on June 8, 2011


I covered this a while ago.
posted by Eideteker at 2:58 PM on June 8, 2011


this "tool" is the one being used by all of our friends and all of our family – and that they're worse off for it.

There are plenty of people out there whose lives are worse off for all sorts of things they do. Perhaps they haven't gotten the message yet that the internet, in general, is Not To Be Trusted. And I have no problem with people trying to get that message out because I think it's valid. But yeah, you want something permanent? Don't put something valuable somewhere that relies on the beneficence of a corporation without a contract.

And every adult should know THAT by now.
posted by chimaera at 3:00 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


when I need to email something, I email it. So does everyone I know on Facebook.

- then you are luckier than I.


And I.

But in the end Facebook is just a tool and I think it works well for things like party invites or keeping in touch with people you might not otherwise.

Unless you're not on Facebook, and you miss out on the party invite altogether. This has happened to me more than once. Which gets us to what koeselitz just said ...

My point is that "you don't like this tool, find another tool" is not a useful response when the whole point is that this "tool" is the one being used by all of our friends and all of our family – and that they're worse off for it.

The rise of FACEBOOK feels very much akin to rise of WINDOWS back in the 90s. A sub-standard piece of mostly-shit tech that for whatever reason (good timing, good marketing, cheapness etc) overwhelms and negates other far better options ... and thus we collectively stumble into a shoddier future than was necessary. And I believe it was Jean Paul Sartre who said "That which is evil is that which is unnecessary."
(in French, of course)
posted by philip-random at 3:01 PM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Unless that tool is hopelessly broken for what it's supposed to do – store human relationships.

Well, it's supposed to provide advertisers with a way to target certain demographics, and considering its valuations, it seems to be doing fine with that. But from the user point of view, it's not supposed to store relationships, it's supposed to give you a convenient way of interacting with people you want to keep in touch with, and it's pretty great at that.

Don't get me wrong - I wrote a downright bitchy response to Rory Marinich a while back about how Facebook's privacy is awful, and I think a lot of its initiatives are just dumb bloat (Places, its attempt to turn the message center into a full email client, etc.), but it's great for certain things.

Like sharing pictures with friends, for instance, which is one of the primary things I still do with it. Share from iPhoto or my phone, tag faces, and boom. All my friends get an automatic notification that someone posted a new picture they're in, and they can go see and comment on it. Other people I'm friends with who might want to see my pictures see it scroll down their news feed. I know it sucks as a photo archive - it's sorely lacking a ton of features of sites like Flickr - but then again, I don't use it as a photo archive. And when I tried to use Flickr for the same type of thing I use facebook for now, it sucked. Few of my friends had accounts, nearly nobody ever left comments, and I had so few views on the albums that I had to link people to in an email with a huge addressee list I had to fill out by hand that I still don't know if most of them ever even looked at the pictures they were in.

So yeah, let's concede the point that facebook makes for a shitty archive, even though it actually doesn't, as several people have already pointed out. If the insane majority of its users don't want it to be an archive, does this make it bad?
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 3:07 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


How is Facebook any more ephemeral than any other site?

Actually, I'm not going to leave well enough alone and continue this rant. Lets say I'm on another site and I reply to a comment. If I have an account there I can generally find something like this and get to the comment. If I comment on something on Facebook god knows if I'll ever see it again. They are de-prioritised in the news feeds and generally fall off the page really fast. I can't find something that I posted three seconds ago? That sounds like a memory hole to me.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:07 PM on June 8, 2011


I use it to post baby pictures for the grandparents and aunts'n'uncles, and to get reminded of birthdays and anniversaries and family get-togethers. (And to ignore friend requests from people I knew in high school. Oddly satisfying, that.)

I learned way back in the Usenet days that a solid alter-ego, carefully cultivated, will save you boatloads of grief down the line when someone runs a search on your handle. This is an unfortunate lesson that needs to be taught early and often - firewall your identity with separate personas for family, friends, and career. A silly screen-name is a DMZ that protects your job from nosey employers who have no business knowing what you did at Anthro Con with who while drinking what. Only use facebook for things that won't lead to awkward silences at Thanksgiving dinner.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:08 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


me: “Unless that tool is hopelessly broken for what it's supposed to do – store human relationships.”

chimaera: “It's called Facebook, not StoreHumanRelationshipsBook.”

So it's for storing faces?

“Now you might have bought whatever shuck and jive the social media have been spewing about how the site is somehow about "stor[ing] human relationships" but just because Facebook can be taken for off-label purposes doesn't mean that they ever signed up to do anything but make money by aggregating a critical mass of people socially interacting with each other so that other people can target advertising toward them.”

Hey, they're called friends. You like things. I think they pretty much 'signed up' for precisely the task of "storing human relationships."
posted by koeselitz at 3:08 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't find something that I posted three seconds ago? That sounds like a memory hole to me.

Download Your Information. (ninth comment in this thread)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 3:09 PM on June 8, 2011


A lot of sites offer a search function and some kind of archive to search through. Facebook literally only has scrolling down.

What? Facebook has search. It searches through your friend's posts, your pages, etc. I don't know what else it should do. (It shows some results in the drop down, if you click to the full search results you can then narrow it and search, say, only Posts by Friends or whatever)
posted by wildcrdj at 3:10 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You would make a ship sail against the winds and currents by lighting a bon-fire under her deck? I have no time for such nonsense."
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:11 PM on June 8, 2011


If you want to store something, copy it to your friggin' hard drive. And then make a backup and/or a paper copy. That goes for your facebook posts, your e-mail, your MeFi interactions, whatever. I'm not sure why this is suddenly Facebook's fault.

Also, did you know that when you talk to somebody in real life, your words just vanish into the ether, completely unrecoverable? Why would anybody use such a poorly designed protocol?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:12 PM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Hey, they're called friends. You like things. I think they pretty much 'signed up' for precisely the task of "storing human relationships."

I once went ass over teakettle riding a street bike on gravel. It wasn't the bike's fault. Be careful about conflating the expectations of the users with the intentions of the corporation.
posted by chimaera at 3:12 PM on June 8, 2011


I don't know what else it should do.

Maybe go back farther than a month?

Download Your Information. (ninth comment in this thread)

I have. I shouldn't have to do it to find something I made six seconds ago.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:14 PM on June 8, 2011


Be careful about conflating the expectations of the users with the intentions of the corporation.

And I should amend that those expectations are at least partly (if not largely) the fault of the corporation. So they should exempt Facebook from the "Don't Trust The Internet" maxim precisely why?
posted by chimaera at 3:15 PM on June 8, 2011


Unless that tool is hopelessly broken for what it's supposed to do – store human relationships.

I really don't think that's what it's supposed to do. At it's most essential, Facebook is only concerned with the here and now. It is literally ephemera and should be treated as such.

Anything I posted on Facebook six years ago--only slightly more recently--is accessible whenever I want to look at it.

Really? By accessible do you mean findable? Including comments on friend's status updates? I find those impossible to find. If I made a comment 4 years ago about "sheep" on one of my friend "Jeff's" status updates or links, how do I find it? Go to his profile page and click "Older Posts" 300 times and then use Ctrl+F?

Naw. It's not even easy to find your own old posts and links, let alone friends. If that's what Facebook's purpose was, it'd let you search for them or provide an index.

What? Facebook has search. It searches through your friend's posts, your pages, etc. I don't know what else it should do. (It shows some results in the drop down, if you click to the full search results you can then narrow it and search, say, only Posts by Friends or whatever)

It has full-text search for comments? I don't think so. When I click on "see relationship" on my friend "Jeff"'s page, I see three comments back to May 25. I comment A LOT. Where are my old comments ...

We've had umpteen discussions of the Red Wings, yet when I search "red wings" in "posts by friends" I get "no results" even though browsing his page I see a post from May 10 that I commented on.

No, Facebook does not have proper search functionality as most of us know it.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:17 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


An interesting point about Facebook is that is basically non-hierarchical. Kinda like Metafilter. You can "like" things in your feed, but that doesn't favor them in any way. So you get this unedited feed of what your friends, family and associates are actually thinking (in some sense), and Aunt Betty's link to a Rush Limbaugh rant pops up there right alongside your link to a gay pride march. I think a lot of people find this very disturbing.
posted by jet_manifesto at 3:17 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can "like" things in your feed, but that doesn't favor them in any way.

It surely must affect the "Top News" feed algorithm...
posted by mrgrimm at 3:19 PM on June 8, 2011


It has full-text search for comments? I don't think so.

It works for me... I just tried searching for some terms and got posts. Maybe it's looking in cache or something so it's not 100%.

Maybe go back farther than a month?

I always thought everyone used Facebook as a news service for friends. 90% of the time you're going to only want current info anyways. But it wouldn't hurt, sure.

Like others here, I don't know anyone who uses Facebook as an archive, except maybe for photos -- and those actually are discoverable long term already.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:19 PM on June 8, 2011


Except you can hide everything Aunt Betty contributes to Facebook (or just her Farmville announcements).
posted by elsietheeel at 3:20 PM on June 8, 2011


I got my last two very well paying, long-term freelance jobs through Facebook. Entirely by keeping a network of pseudo-friends on Facebook.

I do not use it to archive important things in my life. I don't know anyone who does this.

This is an idiotic essay. He creates a straw man argument that people are using FB to archive important things in their lives and that some day all that will be lost, and all their trust is unfounded.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 3:20 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're using facebook as a place to keep safe every irreplaceable gem of wisdom that you hammer out on your keyboard and keep track of every interaction that you have with your friends, then you're using it wrong.

(I may have misunderstood the main point of the "answer"/rant I just read, but I blame the green text. And the general lack of organization.)
posted by geegollygosh at 3:21 PM on June 8, 2011


"An interesting point about Facebook is that is basically non-hierarchical. Kinda like Metafilter. You can "like" things in your feed, but that doesn't favor them in any way. So you get this unedited feed of what your friends, family and associates are actually thinking (in some sense), and Aunt Betty's link to a Rush Limbaugh rant pops up there right alongside your link to a gay pride march. I think a lot of people find this very disturbing."

My understanding is that Facebook keeps track of whose profiles you spend the most time on as well as who spends the most time on your profile, and that it uses this information to, among other things, prioritize your newsfeed.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:23 PM on June 8, 2011


I'm only two paragraphs in, but damn I'm glad I put that "Convert to Instapaper text" button in my toolbar. That green-on-black text was making my eyes water.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:26 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try and communicate with anyone using their designed-by-a-second-trimester-fetus “message” system with any of the features from the last 30 years.

"Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked, 'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.'"
posted by four panels at 3:26 PM on June 8, 2011


Wait, this guy doesn't like Facebook? I use Facebook! He probably doesn't like me because of that, I bet. Well, screw that geek, me and Facebook are awesome.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:28 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


> With everyone using it this way a lot of people's personal history is set far beyond
> their control. That's something worth getting mad about.

Is it more worth getting mad about than the complete and total loss of the personal histories of all those central Asian steppe nomads from 5000y BCE, every bit and byte of whose personal histories is gone, gone? I can't see that it is.


> If I comment on something on Facebook god knows if I'll ever see it again. They are
> de-prioritised in the news feeds and generally fall off the page really fast. I can't
> find something that I posted three seconds ago? That sounds like a memory hole to me.

The comparison to 4chan was apt. Let it go, man. The memory hole is there to keep humanity from filling up the filesystem right down to the very last track and sector in the next twenty minutes and then locking up.


Oh, I'm getting "I Do Not Have A Facebook Account" tattooed on my left bicep to match the "I Do Not Have A TV" ink on my right.
posted by jfuller at 3:28 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: “If you want to store something, copy it to your friggin' hard drive. And then make a backup and/or a paper copy. That goes for your facebook posts, your e-mail, your MeFi interactions, whatever. I'm not sure why this is suddenly Facebook's fault.”

I don't really get all these "just save it to a hard drive!" comments. This post was written by a guy who archives things for a living. He knows how to archive things. His concern is that 99% of people don't; and they are almost all the people on Facebook.

wildcrdj: “Facebook has search. It searches through your friend's posts, your pages, etc. I don't know what else it should do.”

It should do what you just described. It does not do that. Have you ever tried it?

Moreover, to those who insist that Facebook has a clear and usable search and find mechanism, and makes sense historically, here are things you simply cannot do, at least not without a huge amount of trouble:

* Find something you posted on a specific day last year without remembering the what words you used.

* Link to a comment.

* Link to a post.

These are not complicated things. They are things the internet was built to do. Facebook breaks the internet in order to prevent you from doing them. That bothers me a lot.

jeff-o-matic: “I do not use it to archive important things in my life. I don't know anyone who does this.”

It's funny how many people have rushed in here to insist that their relationships with their friends and family, the discussions they have and the little notes they post, are not important. Pardon me for disagreeing; these parts of your lives are important. You're free to do whatever you want with them, but you deserve better.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on June 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


It strikes me how totally internalized the supposed permanence of written text is in this rant. The argument goes something like "Facebook is bad because it's ephemeral, because everything I write should last forever".

Believe it or not, some of us have discussions with friends around a fire, or at a dinner party, or at the pub, or library, or street, or park, or at home, or anywhere else for that matter, where novel or important things are said out loud, and never recorded ever, and this is not inherently bad. Why is it so in the case of Facebook? Why can't the author get past the ephemerality of the medium? Wherein lies the problem?

I agree there is certainly something to be said about the perceived ephemerality, vs the datamining reality, but this doesn't quite get there.
posted by mek at 3:30 PM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is an idiotic essay. He creates a straw man argument that people are using FB to archive important things in their lives and that some day all that will be lost, and all their trust is unfounded.

Actually, he's responding to the following question:

[long preamble] ... What is your opinion regarding the longevity and challenge of archiving this internet behemoth?

And then he offers his opinion.
posted by philip-random at 3:31 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have found facebook to be a very useful tool in many ways. I used facebook groups to troubleshoot my school registration process, for arranging visits when I'm on vacation, and keeping in contact with certain people. I'm not facebook friends with anyone I haven't seen in person in the past year and my new school friendships have been augmented by facebook's almost-group-chat stuff going on. I think someone is using it wrong.

People aren’t just eating Facebook’s Shit Sherbet of overnight upgrades, of lack of guarantees and standards, of enveloping tendrils of web standard breaking. They are shoveling it down.

Oh shnap it's because it works for what I need it to and isn't filled with crappy grindcore and Grateful Dead concerts and has a readable color scheme. I think jscott is angry that facebook isn't archive.org. Well, I'm angry that archive.org and facebook aren't like my website.

Also, what is a "fucktard"? Obviously it is a portmanteau of "retard" which is a slur against people with a variety of cognitive and physical impairment and the word "fuck" which is one of my favorites and means sex or whatever it needs to; I hear it sometimes in Let's Plays and read it Cracked.com and probably more if I did some online gaming. WTF are you using that word for?
posted by fuq at 3:32 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of anecdotal back and forth from not only the blog post, but from various posters about how THEY use FB.

Isn't it possible that people use a tool differently? Yes, you, the fastidious digital equivalent of the Benedectine monk may painstakingly archive all your information in 3 different backup sites, one of which is 2000 feet underground, powered by geothermal energy, but this probably isn't the typical user

Are there any statistics or surveys in showing how FB is used? And if those stats prove that people are misguided in thinking FB has a way to retrieve information of even partial importance, then there's something wrong with the way FB presents itself and what it actually is.
posted by FJT at 3:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it more worth getting mad about than the complete and total loss of the personal histories of all those central Asian steppe nomads from 5000y BCE, every bit and byte of whose personal histories is gone, gone? I can't see that it is.

There is one crucial difference here, and that is that saving my history from Facebook is something I can control.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:33 PM on June 8, 2011


there's something wrong with the way FB presents itself and what it actually is.

I believe that this is already as close as the so-called modern world gets to an accepted fact. Caveat emptor was invented by the ancient Greeks with FaceBook in mind.
posted by philip-random at 3:36 PM on June 8, 2011


There's a lot more to Facebook than your Aunt Bessie or your high school dance photos.
posted by carping demon at 3:37 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My relationships are important. A specific thing I said to my aunt two years ago is not. If I lost all physical record of every interaction I had with my friends in the last three years, they would still be my friends. My family would still be my family. I don't need in-depth computer archives to remember them. I might want to back up particular exchanges, but it's not vitally important to me that everything I've ever sent over the internet be instantly recoverable, any more than I tape-record every telephone conversation I have in case I want to revisit it later.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:40 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me see if I've got this straight. The current self-described "geek" dogma is that Facebook is bad because it provides a free service while copiously indexing the minutia of your life and shoving adds at you. Google is good because it provides a free service while copiously indexing the minutia of your life and shoving adds at you.

Is that about right?
posted by entropicamericana at 3:43 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is that about right?

Geeks think google is good?
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:46 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Facebook makes Google look good.
posted by philip-random at 3:49 PM on June 8, 2011


...said out loud, and never recorded ever, and this is not inherently bad. Why is it so in the case of Facebook?

Well, two reasons, beyond just straight storing data for the sake of storing.

1) Facebook's use as a communication platform is starting to have an impact on real world events. FB has played a role in things like the Arab Spring. It would be important to retain this raw information for historical study.

2) For use as evidence in a court case or aid in ongoing investigations.
posted by FJT at 3:52 PM on June 8, 2011


"Is that about right?"

No. The place you messed up is where you assumed anyone with an opinion about Facebook was then locked into a particular opinion about Google. This is Fox News logic. You are smarter than that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:53 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anybody who either loves or hates Facebook takes it way too seriously.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:57 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing makes me feel young like Metafilter Facebook threads but I'm glad people here seem to get it.
I don't use Facebook as an archive. Any blogs I post there I also back up on Blogger. Photos are mostly social snaps, and of course I have copies on my HD. Any links I post/things I Like will still exist in whatever form I got them from.

Facebook is SOCIAL. It got 40 people to show up at my birthday drinks. It helps me get dates. It let's me keep in constant contact with my loose, geographically close social group. It's PERFECT for that, and I love it.

I'm annoyed by the constant interface changes too but how do you get from 'changing how the Enter key works' to
As we watch this machine, this engine that runs on memories and identity and watch it sell every last bit of us to anyone who will pay, as it mulches under our self and our dreams and our ideas and turns them into a grey miserable paste suitable for a side dish or the full entree of the human online experience, I am sure many of us will say it’s no big deal.
?




MeFi really needs Like buttons.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:58 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


So facebook IS for ephemeral, non-essential comments and links that I don't need a hard copy archive of somewhere, or it isn't? You don't get to have it both ways. If people are using it for random thoughts and status updates and links to funny things on the internet, which seems to be what he's saying it should be used for, I don't see why he's so concerned that there's no permanent archive or search function.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:59 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


my facebook page is a trap.
posted by clavdivs at 4:00 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If people are using it for random thoughts and status updates and links to funny things on the internet, which seems to be what he's saying it should be used for, I don't see why he's so concerned that there's no permanent archive or search function.

Because random thoughts and data on who likes what will very likely be interesting to those in the future. Pointless is in the eyes of the beholder.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 4:02 PM on June 8, 2011


A lot of sites offer a search function and some kind of archive to search through. Facebook literally only has scrolling down. That's about as ephemeral as 4chan.

That's not true at all. I've searched for some innocuous keyword and got stuff from years ago.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:02 PM on June 8, 2011


Facebook is disappearing our precious comments! If you really care about this, cut and paste this message into your facebook status forever. Otherwise it will disappear.
posted by snofoam at 4:11 PM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I have. I shouldn't have to do it to find something I made six seconds ago.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:14 PM on 6/8


Set your feed to show All Posts, not Top Posts.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:13 PM on June 8, 2011


"Damn, this tool don't work like I want it to, it's the bad for humanity, and right up there with viruses and malware as being actively destructive."

No, it's a tool that doesn't work like you want it to. Find another one, and you'll feel less grar in your life.
It is, in fact, possible for tools to be bad for humanity. Coal plants anyone? SUVs? Facebook has a lot of utility, for sure. But the way it's structured: centralized and controlled, is bad. Facebook's goal is to be the first trillion dollar company. You don't get there by giving out free value, you get there by extracting as much as possible.
I'm only two paragraphs in, but damn I'm glad I put that "Convert to Instapaper text" button in my toolbar. That green-on-black text was making my eyes water.
It's actually easier on the eyes. People complain all the time about how looking at monitors all day makes their eyes hurt (and so they want e-ink like the kindle). It's because they're staring in a bright-white screen 90% of the time. If people used black backgrounds like they should, people would get used to it and it would be a lot easier on the eyes.
posted by delmoi at 4:14 PM on June 8, 2011


At one point in my life, I was all GRARRR corporate marketing and sales fucktards are destroying everything sacred! I wasn't going to become part of the "machine." I'd resist somehow, find another path in life. Moreover, I thought, if *everyone* would just resist in similar ways, we'd transform the developed world into some kind of utopia overnight.

I didn't work out that way. I didn't have the wits or tolerance for instability to figure it out on my own, I lacked the social capital and skills to join up with the cool kids who were fighting the good fight, and I had no talents that could keep me somehow afloat in an "alt" economy.

I think a lot of people go through this romantic disillusionment and then start to figure out how they can live a good life in default world. Some don't, and they're able to ride that romantic vision -- or at least some approximation of it -- for the rest of their lives. I know a few, and I have ceaseless admiration for them.

However, one thing my semi-off-grid friends don't do is call me an ignorant loser or a corporate fucktard for being one of the masses, and I feel like this article did.

I realize his article wasn't about what type of economy you make your living in, but the rhetoric was pretty much identical.
posted by treepour at 4:17 PM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


(And by "good life" I mean in it in a philosophical, not material sense. How can I be a better person, live a life that's worth living, create a meaningful life, etc).
posted by treepour at 4:19 PM on June 8, 2011


It is, in fact, possible for tools to be bad for humanity. Coal plants anyone? SUVs?

And nuclear bombs. Don't forget to parallel Facebook with Nuclear Bombs as well. And tasers, lead paint, and packaging that's impossible to open without a blowtorch and a chainsaw. And don't forget chainsaws and blowtorches. Those are all tools, too. You should be aware that all pedophiles are human, as well.

Humans, what tools.
posted by chimaera at 4:26 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


This essay confused me. Jason and other Rogue Digital Archivist types frequently (and to my mind totally correctly) take exception to similar arguments when aimed at other sites. Like "oh that usenet, it was just rubbish", or "oh that yahoo video, nothing of value was ever posted there", or "geocities stuff is so old and busted blah blah".

all crap arguments! there's at least *some* good stuff in any repository. and users should be able to get their stuff (good or not) back out in useful form. these are good principles. and just because some companies (like facebook and twitter) are currently doing a crap job of allowing users to recover old posts ... well that's *bad* and should be *changed*. but it's not the user's fault.

so why is facebook different? i mean yes, you could agree with every single issue raised with facebook-the-company and yet still feel that some facebook *user* might be, right now, created something so interesting & valuable that it's worth saving. so why not save it? or if FB has currently made that technically unpossible, start trying to get them to change?
posted by feckless at 4:27 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If people used black backgrounds like they should, people would get used to it and it would be a lot easier on the eyes.

I agree, but if I've got to fiddle with it just to read it, it's poorly designed.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:32 PM on June 8, 2011


On the plus (?) side, Facebook remembers and recognizes the faces in photos, as a new (maybe) feature that's already turned on for you.
posted by Houstonian at 4:37 PM on June 8, 2011


If people are using it for random thoughts and status updates and links to funny things on the internet, which seems to be what he's saying it should be used for, I don't see why he's so concerned that there's no permanent archive or search function.


Things that may seem trivial, random, or irrelevant in the present can easily take on a much, much more important meaning 10 seconds, a week, 6 months, or even 100 years later.

Think about all those banal cuneiform tablets about the price and quantity of grain, or The Zapruder film, or the CCTV of the boys that murdered James Bulger.
posted by FJT at 4:38 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"and yet still feel that some facebook *user* might be, right now, created something so interesting & valuable that it's worth saving. so why not save it?"

This is called hording. It's a disease. And in fact I'm guessing that saving every twist-tie I've ever come across might even have more potential future use than the sum total of my lifetime Facebook contributions.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:39 PM on June 8, 2011


y6y6y6 - that argument can (and has) been used against every single act of digital archiving (and physical archiving) ever. so, fine, if that's what you think, feel free to move on and not worry about it.

what i don't understand is why people who believe in archiving would carve out an exception of this magnitude.
posted by feckless at 4:43 PM on June 8, 2011


I think that to some of us FB is just equivalent to chatting with friends. And I don't keep a digital audio recorder going at all times when I'm hanging out with friends, nor do I tape my phone conversations.

I understand the counter-argument --- since at some level your FB comments are being saved, it would be even easier to archive them. But I don't buy that anything is being lost, it's just that nothing new is being added.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:53 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who want to archive their pages are still free to do so.

Is this about Facebook's responsibility to "store human relationships" or its responsibility to historians and archaeologists of the future to preserve for them a complete copy of our weekend plans?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:53 PM on June 8, 2011


I gotta go right now. But I'll be back later. With popcorn.
posted by humannaire at 5:30 PM on June 8, 2011


For me, any social networking product is only as good as the network attached to it. I use Facebook like some people use Twitter, because that's where my friends are. I couldn't give less of a shit whether Facebook meets some arcane, Platonic ideal of how people should be interacting on the Internet. Facebook is where the party is so I don't really care about the building's structural soundness.

I also have grown up in a world where I understand that I am exchanging basic demographic information for free use of a service that I enjoy. I also know how to protect my privacy when I need to, and I know how to back up my facebook life which is more than I can say for sites where I left bits of my Internet life in the past.
posted by MadamM at 5:47 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the plus (?) side, Facebook remembers and recognizes the faces in photos, as a new (maybe) feature that's already turned on for you.

Speaking of which; if you want to disable this feature, here's what you have to do. Go to account, privacy settings, customize settings, suggest photos of me to friends, then edit and disable. If you do that then FaceBook won't recognize your face when it appears in your friends' photos.
posted by scalefree at 5:57 PM on June 8, 2011


After much pruning I am down to maybe 2-3 Facebook friends and I'm not sure who they are, but they are awsome!. My shit is VIP yo!
posted by Ad hominem at 6:10 PM on June 8, 2011


I'm confused. I thought we had to worry about FB and all the other social media sites because they "never forget" and all that drunken shit will come back to haunt us in the future. Now I'm supposed to worry that all that stuff isn't going to be archived. Huh?

All I wanted to do is share photos of cats.
posted by foggy out there now at 6:48 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, they never forget but that doesn't mean they're giving you access to your older entries. Now if you wanted to pay them for the privilege I suppose something could be worked out.
posted by scalefree at 6:57 PM on June 8, 2011


If people are using it for random thoughts and status updates and links to funny things on the internet, which seems to be what he's saying it should be used for, I don't see why he's so concerned that there's no permanent archive or search function.

Because random thoughts and data on who likes what will very likely be interesting to those in the future. Pointless is in the eyes of the beholder.


But what does this have to do with Facebook? Are all Metafilter posts, or emails, or IM chats going to last to the end of time, or will most be lost? And if they were saved, wouldn't most of posterity be unable to sort through them all? I mean, posterity will presumably have its own life to live, and not having to read about Farmville updates will give them more time to do so.

The LOC is archiving Twitter, and good luck to them, but I don't particularly want my every random thought and Weiner joke engraved in marble.

And I really don't understand this idea that Facebook's failure to archive our blather is stealing something from us. Prior to Facebook, our blather wasn't archived either. My many prank calls to my brother over the years are not recorded anywhere (to my knowledge). And they don't need to be. Nor Aunt Carlene's thoughts about the Cowboys, or Bubba's favorite Rush Limbaugh jokes.

It's ok for some of our lives to go unrecorded; in fact, the idea of a world where constant surveillance means everything we ever typed or said is around to haunt us forever bothers me much more than a world where at least some of it disappears into the ether.
posted by emjaybee at 7:06 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you don't understand that idea because no one is saying it. If you really are just going to use Facebook to post pictures of cats, you've got nothing to worry about. However, if many of your friends communicate primarily through Facebook out of convenience, and then they die or something and you want to see what went on between you, you've got nothing.

Perhaps you're okay with that, perhaps they're okay with that. But then again, a lot of people consider Facebook as "the new email," and expect it to offer the same advantages.

I'm afraid the only way this enormous group of people will be woken from their slumber is by shouty FPPs.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:12 PM on June 8, 2011


emjaybee: “And I really don't understand this idea that Facebook's failure to archive our blather is stealing something from us. Prior to Facebook, our blather wasn't archived either. My many prank calls to my brother over the years are not recorded anywhere (to my knowledge). And they don't need to be. Nor Aunt Carlene's thoughts about the Cowboys, or Bubba's favorite Rush Limbaugh jokes.”

This is what Jason meant, I think, when he said that Facebook represents the death of the innocent promise of the internet. The promise of the internet in the early days was that it could change all this, that it could provide us with structured ways to communicate, that it could help us connect in new ways and to create and build our own awesome things.

Facebook does not do that. It substitutes real self-created connection for pokes and likes and friendings and all kinds of so-so stuff that sort of does the job. That's why people say "what's the big deal? It doesn't really matter" – because Facebook has taught them that creating a life where you are connected to other people doesn't actually matter at all. Facebook takes away your agency, it takes away your creative power, and replaces it with a default blue and white color scheme and locked-down controls.

I would much, much prefer an internet the way it was going ten years ago: an internet filled with people who have blogs, who have little sites of their own, who have different places that are connected and linked together that they've built, places over which they have all control, all agency, places for which they're responsible. That's still a fine dream, I think. Facebook has effectively killed it, because people don't want the hassle of creating their own thing anymore.
posted by koeselitz at 7:15 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Facebook is phenomenally useful because hundreds of millions of people use it. Any network communication tool that hundreds of millions of people use will be phenomenally useful, regardless of any of the actual features of that.

The underlying features of facebook are simply bad in a lot of ways — in ascending order of importance, this badness includes the awkward UI that keeps changing, the license that lets facebook claim anything you upload as theirs, and the almost perfectly blase attitude toward user privacy. The problem, and the reason why it's important, and the reason why people are treating this as a political issue (in that we're all debating it in public and attempting to change peoples' minds about it) is that "if you don't like it, don't use it" doesn't really apply, since there's no other service out there that is used by nearly as many people. Opting out of facebook, on an individual basis, is about as practical as opting out of phone or mail service.

Hopefully there will at some point be a mass exodus to a service that's less broken than facebook, like with the great digg exodus a while back... but until then, until we all leave at once, we're stuck with facebook.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:23 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Opting out of facebook, on an individual basis, is about as practical as opting out of phone or mail service.

I disagree. I left Facebook about a year ago because it seemed so artificial to pop in on others' lives without them knowing, without actually connecting with them. I now actually see, call, write, or email people who are important to me instead of hanging out with them vicariously on Facebook. I am significantly happier than I was when I was a Facebook slave, checking it every day, sometimes more than once. Also, I wish it to be known that I am 24 and had used Facebook from it's beginning, so it was a pretty big step to quit something that 98% of the people I know use. However, I do not regret leaving AT ALL.

I don't think this article is particularly good, but I do think it captures the essence of Facebook: Facebook doesn't give a shit about you and you spend your time trying to be given a shit about.
posted by delicate_dahlias at 7:43 PM on June 8, 2011


I left FB a year or so too, and came back. I don't use it to store my life. I don't post much on my wall. I don't view FB as an archive. I doubt that Mark Zuckerberg views it as an archive, any more than Larry Page and Sergey Brin think that anything Google puts out is an archive. I use it to have some sort of connection, however tenuous and transitory, with friends I'd never otherwise hear from because they hate phones and no longer use email for much anymore and don't live where I can see them. I don't have any illusion that it's really all that much preferable to not being on FB, because it indeed has the drawback that said contact is mostly illusory and an excuse to be lazy and not use email/phone/etc. (Or who knows, maybe I just have really fickle friends.) But, yeah, I'm back on there. But do I think that it's anything other than what delicate_dahlias says it is above -- a site that doesn't give a shit about me or anyone else on it? No.
posted by blucevalo at 8:24 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use FB to play scrabble, and I am getting my ass kicked by pjern.

Other than that, I use it to make the occasional wisecrack to an RL friend, and that's it.
posted by not_on_display at 8:53 PM on June 8, 2011


I just popped in to say that I still don't have a FB account. I know! People think it's weird.
posted by dejah420 at 9:06 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the fact that anyone would put anything of any unique nature on there, that matters to them, is beyond insanity – it’s identity suicide. It’s like you are intentionally driving down the road of life, ripping pages of your journal and photo albums, and tossing them out the window. Good luck finding anything again. Good luck knowing in six months, a year, something will even be findable. Try and communicate with anyone using their designed-by-a-second-trimester-fetus “message” system with any of the features from the last 30 years. Go back and try and negotiate it for search and topic control and usefulness. No. Not happening. Everything on Facebook is Now. Nothing, and I mean nothing on Facebook is Then. Or even last month.

This reads like somewhat like Sartre. Who knew, Mark Zuckerberg has created an existential crisis.

But, seriously though. Google started it, and is likely doing it better than Zuckerberg could even dream of -- quietly, unobtrusively, harmlessly. I bet Google has an algorithm that identifies me as uniquely me based on what I do on the internet for a mere 2 minutes, and has a better three-dimensional portrait of me than all of my pictures on Facebook combined.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:25 PM on June 8, 2011


Metafilter, you never fail me! Jscott likes this.
posted by jscott at 9:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I used to have a Facebook thing. Now I don't any more.

Because I am better than you.

I'm not really. Just lazier.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:48 PM on June 8, 2011


As someone who does this sort of thing for a living, I can guarantee you with 99.999% assurance that there is absolutely no possible way Facebook is "throwing away" any of your content. That content is a flippin' goldmine of data. No way in hell does it disappear down the memory hole. All it takes is the right algorithm to draw the useful information from the terabytes of raw feeds of data and you've justified the cost of storage. Same goes for Google. They save everything because storage is cheap as shit so why not?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:24 PM on June 8, 2011


I would much, much prefer an internet the way it was going ten years ago: an internet filled with people who have blogs, who have little sites of their own, who have different places that are connected and linked together that they've built, places over which they have all control, all agency, places for which they're responsible. That's still a fine dream, I think. Facebook has effectively killed it, because people don't want the hassle of creating their own thing anymore.

Facebook has killed nothing. I say this as a Facebook addict who has been seriously worrying about the time he spends on the site, who wrote for the AllFacebook blog back in high school, and who has enough of a callous disrespect for end users that I actively enjoy people getting pissed off when Facebook decides to do their new thing.

Facebook has existed since 2004 and it's brought a whole lot of people to the Internet who didn't have a purpose for it before, and it's easy to look at all those people and say, shit, well the Internet's broken now, innit? But all those new people on Facebook are finding other places they'd like to be as well.

I rag on Tumblr a lot, but if you ever want to see real uncensored tasteless creativity erupting from every pore, go look at a bunch of tumblelogs. Such creativity that I almost explode seeing it all. And I see a lot of it, because as a theme designer whose work powers thirty thousand web sites, I get support emails from a ton of people and I look at all of their web sites.

I know one girl who spends her time on Tumblr communicating and sharing with the transgender community, including her own coming out video. I met a young girl who uses one tumblelog as a showcase for all her art pieces and another one to document her fashion choices. A friend of one of my old summer campers mostly reblogs other content but at the same time, if you want a blog that's just bursting with that stamp of individuality... yerch. And one of my best friends ever reblogs too, but with tight little commentaries that would make me fall in love with her even if I wasn't in love already. (She uses this blog to complement a longer-form blog on Wordpress.)

It's worth pointing out that none of these people are remotely tech people or even geeky people. They approach the internet from a lot of vantage points — some are using it for activism, some for vanity, some for socializing, and some as a kind of extension of journal-writing. As a former geek, I was frustrated for the longest time about how all these people were using the Internet in ways that were different than how I wanted to use it. But now I realize that that's exactly what the Internet needs to bloom and to flourish.

(And considering you're a user whose SoundCloud profile I follow and force my friends to listen to, and who I was also friends with on Facebook, surely you don't think that Facebook is forcing people to stay within its confines.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:10 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I believe it was Jean Paul Sartre who said "That which is evil is that which is unnecessary."

Jean Paul Sartre is the patron saint of people who think you can't be serious unless you refuse to have any fun at all. My existentialist professor showed us a rare video clip of Sartre talking about his friendship with Camus, and how Camus was always frustrated with Sartre's insistence that he was hideous and nobody would ever love him and that's why he was so determined to write. Camus's position in turn was something like, "Look, you're allowed to contemplate the essence of existence and still pick up girls in bars if you want." Then in the video Sartre talked about how as he got older he found himself even less happy than before.

I love him very much and I respect his output something fierce, but listening to Sartre's advice on how to live a fulfilling life is like listening to Helen Keller's advice on fashion.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:14 PM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]



Digital archeology: Showcasing the web's first artistic offerings

It normally takes hundreds or even thousands of years for an object to count as an historic artifact. But in the fleeting age of the internet, people have a tendency to forget past achievements quickly.

That is why, only two decades or so after the creation of the World Wide Web, the first "digital archeology" exhibit of the earliest websites is making its North American debut.

"These are the websites that wrote the rules of the web," says curator Jim Boulton, deputy managing director of the British advertising firm Story Worldwide. It partnered with Google and the American Library of Congress to put on the exhibit, which opens this Monday during Internet Week in New York City.

posted by Rumple at 11:26 PM on June 8, 2011


Is this about Facebook's responsibility to "store human relationships" or its responsibility to historians and archaeologists of the future to preserve for them a complete copy of our weekend plans?
Anthropologists love digging up garbage more then they do digging up artwork, to a certain extent. Because the garbage tells them how people lived. If facebook had existed 1000 years ago historians would be all over that. Sure each individual message probably isn't that exciting on it's own, but FB is providing a huge database (albeit mediated by personal vanity) of how the everyday person lives in this day and age.

There is the issue of having too much information, but in the future people will have super powerful AIs to dig through it all in seconds.

So I do think something like FB could be wonderful for future historians. But it's the reality of FB today that's the problem.
posted by delmoi at 11:38 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Abit slammed shut their forums thus shutting me off from all the great support I'd come to depend on for my motherboard (and that I've only needed 2 or 3 times in almost 4 years). THAT pissed me off. I don't expect Facebook to any more permanent than that. Jason Scott's relationship status w/ FB is complicated, to be sure.
posted by Lukenlogs at 11:56 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Facebook is conversation, not publishing.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:35 AM on June 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ironically enough, even though FB is great at collecting and manipulating data, it is actually really rubbish as a medium for advertisers. It is constructed entirely to facilitate conversations, which means only brands that are good at conversations (and have something to say that people want to hear) can make any use of it. And that's not many brands at all.
posted by Summer at 4:26 AM on June 9, 2011


Do people actually treat Facebook like a repository?

I don't see this. Hell, a lot of the relatives and casual friends I see on FB not only don't see it as a repository, but wouldn't think to permanently archive things on computers or networks generally. That's not the way they use computers. We're talking people who (because of viruses or general misuse) crash their desktop hard drives every year or two and lose everything, because backing up is too much of a hassle to remember and running security apps slows down their (spyware-laden) systems.
posted by aught at 6:10 AM on June 9, 2011


How cute, I think I wrote livejournal entries like this when all my friends were really into The Killers back in 2004.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:41 AM on June 9, 2011


but listening to Sartre's advice on how to live a fulfilling life is like listening to Helen Keller's advice on fashion.

"J'avais vingt ans. Je ne laisserai personne dire que c'est le plus bel âge de la vie. "

-Paul Nizan
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


infinitywaltz: "This article crystallizes my nearly irrational hatred of Facebook the way that Michael Moorcock's essay, Epic Pooh, crystallized my similar feelings about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy."

It reminds me of Epic Pooh, too. In that the author is someone who has done some great work, but who is completely off base here.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:20 AM on June 9, 2011


This is an idiotic essay. He creates a straw man argument that people are using FB to archive important things in their lives and that some day all that will be lost, and all their trust is unfounded.

I wouldn't say idiotic, just off-base, and mostly standard Facebook rant about the unwashed masses who don't know how to backup their shit and don't they know we need their crotchshots saved for posterity?

Microsoft did awful fucking things. I mean, all the time. Really awful things. So did IBM, way back when. Compaq? Assholery. Sony? Doing ten awful fucking things this morning before breakfast. Of course awful things are on the agenda and the lifeblood of any firm so big that it can affect law, affect standards, make millionaires just sucking under its folding metal chair for breadcrumbs. Facebook is just doing it to People.

law, standards, millionaires sucking ... all those things affect .... PEOPLE!

Also, yeah, IBM? They've been implicated in doing bad things to People with a capital P.

I would much, much prefer an internet the way it was going ten years ago: an internet filled with people who have blogs, who have little sites of their own ... Facebook has effectively killed it, because people don't want the hassle of creating their own thing anymore.

10 years ago (maybe 12) the Internet was going down the toilet with along the Homestead.com Gator Bowl. It was basically a shopping mall.

There are more independent blogs and lots more artist (music/visual/acting) sites. There are waaay more people "creating their own thing" now than 10 years ago. The struggle between commercialism and artistry has certainly changed, but everything has changed.

The memory hole is there to keep humanity from filling up the filesystem right down to the very last track and sector in the next twenty minutes and then locking up.

I agree. The memory hole is critical to our collective sanity. We do we do drink or take drugs? Or sleep?

To forget.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:40 AM on June 9, 2011


Opting out of facebook, on an individual basis, is about as practical as opting out of phone or mail service.

It kinda is, though. These days it is pretty much what I am calling "social blackmail." You can, technically, go without it, but somebody will probably force your ass to get an account and participate at some point. I seem to recall some Cary Tennis letter recently where some woman was being forced to get it at work when she didn't want to.

I have a token FB account. Which is to say, back when it was a college site, my volunteer job set up a page that was pretty funny, I joined it, got bored with the site really fast the same way I did with the other social networking sites I was briefly on. (Orkut, anyone?) I'm not a gamer and short updates/tweeting bore the shit out of me and I already have Flickr and blogs for posting photos if I actually feel like doing it. So I forgot about it. Then Facebook exploded and became socially fucking mandatory, what with the "you won't be invited to anything if you aren't on FB"-ness.

I wish I hadn't put my actual name on the stupid thing (too late now). If I'd known that employers and jury duty people and the media and whatnot were going to eyeball everything you post... oh yeah, and the privacy settings are changing every five seconds, so good luck keeping people from seeing things that would offend them. It's not worth it to me to actually use the thing and worry about this shit. I am about 99% inoffensive, but you never know who's going to freak about what if they see it. At this point, I ignore my account, I have never ever once updated it from the original token page. I could set up a fake name account and see how long FB takes to notice it, but by now I'm so sick of hearing about Facebook drama I don't want to actually join in myself. I'm a nerd and rarely get invited to parties anyway, fuck it.

I have not deleted it because (a) deleting an account doesn't quite work as far as I can tell, and (b) I work somewhere where uh, it is probably a good idea to have a token stupid account. Once in a great while I get a useful message, so I leave the thing, but I wish I could kill it.

What really worries me is that I loathe and despise Twitter (if I had a buck for every good writer who finally just said, "I don't blog any more because once I've tweeted, I'm done..."), but I'm sure that someday, somebody will force me to fucking tweet. For "social networking" or for work (okay, not this job, thank god, but future ones perhaps). Right now technically you can sortakinda get away with not constantly posting to Facebook, but it's gonna be like cellphones, if it isn't already. Actually it probably already is. It's like Microsoft: there's a few other options out there, but this one has taken over the entire Internet and is eating souls left and right.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I get that Jenfullmoon. Sometimes I can go months w/o hearing from someone, even after I've emailed them, and their response is almost always "oh, didn't you see my Facebook?"

My opinion is that after all the years I've been preaching data security, and my rather vociferous wants about fb privacy issues and data control issues, and someone doesn't notice that I don't have a fb account...why would they assume that I'm slavishly following their fb updates? Seriously, even if I had one, I don't have time for that shit.

It is starting to become an issue w/ clients though, who seem amazed that I don't have a fb account.
posted by dejah420 at 9:05 AM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Facebook is conversation, not publishing.

From the Facebook user Terms...

2.4. When you publish content or information using the "everyone" setting ...
posted by philip-random at 9:08 AM on June 9, 2011


I get that Jenfullmoon. Sometimes I can go months w/o hearing from someone, even after I've emailed them, and their response is almost always "oh, didn't you see my Facebook?"

Waittaminnit. If you don't even have a FB account, isn't he or she just lying to you? I mean, what is she saying? "you didn't see my public status update that was addressed to you?" ... I'm not grokking the disconnect.

Ah ... does she mean "you didn't see my status update that I'd be out of the country for a few months?" or whatever. I mean, you contacted her directly with an email; does she think a public status update is a response?! I just can't believe that's an "almost always" occurrence.

What is her real position? That she responded to your email with a Facebook ___? Not a direct message, obviously, and certainly not a post to your "wall"?

What on earth could she mean? I must assume it's the "didn't you get my public update that I'd be unreachable?" angle you object to, i.e. missing out on information that FB users get, but that's part of the deal of a closed system...

Regardless, she's still rude for not replying to your email in a fashion that made it clear whether or not you knew of her response. That's just common courtesy.

I dunno. I know plenty of people who either aren't on Facebook or who have an account but do not actively use it. Their friends know that (it's pretty obvious, no? just type "friends name" into that little search box - do you see them? or do you see they they haven't had any activity in over a year?) and act accordingly. The non-FB users *do* miss out on photos, and event invites, and music downloads, and funny videos ... but that's again part of their decision not to partake.

My wife's sister in law is not on Facebook, mostly I think because she doesn't want to see people from her past. She has no problem organizing parties. Sharing photos ... is harder. But I've never ever heard anyone ever say to her "didn't you get my facebook?" or ever heard her complain about it.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:19 AM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm - as one who has definitely missed out on certain stuff because I don't have a Facebook account (not in my actual name anyway) the issue seems to be that many who have embraced Facebook seem to assume that everyone else has as well (certainly among their peers). So yeah, they're maybe not going to assume that their grandparents are on board, but definitely that "guy-from-work" ...

Which gets us back to the issue that to "just say no" to Facebook is to "just say no" to a lot of what constitutes current social life. I'd say that this a pretty much a fact ... for now. One that actually works me, sort of. As a writer who has Olympic level procrastination skills, it often helps to NOT be in the loop.
posted by philip-random at 11:16 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm - as one who has definitely missed out on certain stuff because I don't have a Facebook account (not in my actual name anyway) the issue seems to be that many who have embraced Facebook seem to assume that everyone else has as well (certainly among their peers).

You sound like someone who proudly doesn't own a TV and then complains when he doesn't understand conversations about TV shows.
posted by nasreddin at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think that's a fair comparison, nasredding. Owning a TV doesn't require the same level of trust in the TV company that creating a (real name) Facebook account does.

I think it's the adoption of one communication platform by the majority that a minority of users strongly object to. If it is THE social network, how can you social with friends and not be on it?

That's really the rub. I do think that enough alternatives exist online aside from Facebook for socially interacting with your online friends. I am not FB friends with most of my fantasy baseball league, but I interact with them all the time.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:47 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


*nasreddin* /editwindow (i still typed the "g" this time and had to go back and delete it)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:47 AM on June 9, 2011


I'm not a phone person. I avoid talking on the phone whenever possible. And of course, given what we know about Our Merciful Lords the Telcos, a phone isn't any more appealing privacy-wise than a computer. But when everyone was still relying on phone calls to communicate with one another, did I bitch and whine and announce that I wasn't gonna own a phone and it would be email or bust? Hell no. No man is an island, entire of himself. Life means adjusting to changing social expectations or putting up with isolation.
posted by nasreddin at 12:00 PM on June 9, 2011


nasreddin - It's true. I don't own a TV. Feel free to search my comment history and find me bragging about such.
posted by philip-random at 12:01 PM on June 9, 2011


mrgrimm - as one who has definitely missed out on certain stuff because I don't have a Facebook account (not in my actual name anyway) the issue seems to be that many who have embraced Facebook seem to assume that everyone else has as well (certainly among their peers).

This. I do assume everyone will in my peer group has a Facebook account, because they do. When my siblings wanted advice on being more social, I told them to set up an FB because its just easier.

It pretty much is about conversation. The value is in the random connections. I'll post this link, and someone will say something and they'll be an argument or a debate and it'll turn out one of my IRL friends is on MeFi and two of them used to know each other and it'll be awesome.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:35 PM on June 9, 2011


infinitywaltz: "Michael Moorcock's essay, Epic Pooh, crystallized my similar feelings about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings"

This crystallizes my early feelings that Moorcock was a self-centered wingnut.
posted by sneebler at 9:22 PM on June 9, 2011


infinitywaltz: "Michael Moorcock's essay, Epic Pooh, crystallized my similar feelings about Tolkien's Lord of the Rings"

This crystallizes my early feelings that Moorcock was a self-centered wingnut.


Them's fighting words!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:48 PM on June 9, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "Them's fighting words!"

Well, Moorcock certainly has...a great deal of self-regard.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:31 AM on June 10, 2011


As always, I am always pleased when something I wrote shows up on Metafilter. I find misunderstandings, assumptions about my character and outlook, and a host of other such downers, but it's all couched in well-written terms with clear presentation of vision. Always a pleasure to read. Glad everyone took the time to discuss it.
posted by jscott at 5:31 PM on June 10, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "Them's fighting words!"

Well, Moorcock certainly has...a great deal of self-regard.


How dare one of the greatest fantasy and sci-fi authors of the 20th century think highly of himself! The cheek! He must be cut down like the tall poppy he is.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:31 PM on June 10, 2011


Metafilter: The Cheek!
posted by jscott at 8:10 PM on June 10, 2011


Setting aside any issue of Moorcock's stature as an author-I feel that tends to turn quickly into argument from authority-my point was that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Regardless of the quality of his arguments-and I found Epic Pooh unconvincing-arrogance predisposes people against you.

Exhibit A: Harlan Ellison.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:15 PM on June 11, 2011


Harlan Ellison is also awesome, though more divisive than Micheal Moorcock.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:27 PM on June 11, 2011


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