Archive for July, 2011

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With the pleasantly-surprising exception of one Google hit, all of my traffic to this weblog comes by way of Facebook. Can’t complain… what with my disdain for non-sarcastic self-promotion and infrequent updates.

Additionally, I have used Facebook more than once to publish ideas that were too short, profane or random to blog about. Ever being a believer in balance, I believe it is high time to now use Word Press as a staging ground to talk about Facebook. Specifically: the like button, using it, and when not to. Let me open with a few examples:

I only made one of these up

I’m not quite sure what’s going on here. I’m a little frightened at the idea that we’re dealing with a form of social ineptitude that surpasses my own. I am slightly more comfortable with the possibility that people are associating the word “Like” with general feelings of positivity and good will, and thus clicking (or in the case of mobile devices… um… thumbing? Tapping?). Obviously, the Like button has its deficiencies. Now before you jump to the obvious…

I think the popularity of the idea of a “Dislike” button highlights the tendency of people to think in polar opposites. I myself am not a fan of a Dislike button… I believe the lack of it, combined with the presence of the Like button, promotes in some primitive way the Judeo-Christian ideal of being slow to anger and quick to listen. Doesn’t do much about “slow to speak,” but that would be expecting a little much from a website with an integrated chat feature.

There’s another obvious solution: if you’re moved enough to respond, and want the other party to know/think they’ll be impressed… write something.

Facebook: Now with comments!

Sure, maybe for those rumored Facebook power-users. But that’s not what drove people to computers in the first place. I think it ultimately comes down to a CLI vs. GUI thing (what?). Allow me to explain:

Early computer terminals had no graphics. They had a command-line interface: a blinking prompt that would sit there until you told it to do something. Not unlike many husbands. But, the catch was, in order to do something, one needed to learn an unintuitive, needlessly complex and tough-as-hell-to-remember series of commands and responses. Not unlike dealing with many wives (remember: a believer in balance).

An actual Linux command. It's not as dirty as it sounds.

The advantage of a CLI is that the user is unbounded: pretty much anything you want the machine (or network of machines) to do, you can… provided you know the command ahead of time. But that’s uninviting. That’s where graphics come in. Not quite as unbounded as the command-line, but it provides a working analogue to tools and situations with which people are familiar, and context. Don’t know what I mean? Click on something. I’ll wait.

You were just given a list of options. You may have even understood what some of them were. And nobody needed to teach you that. The Internet used to be like a CLI… full of precursors to forums and message boards, telnet games, and primitive text-based websites[link] that just offered some info and links to other equally-simple sites. Modern sites are a graphical answer to those same needs.

Facebook needs to realize this. Their target demographic is not about to master the most complex shell language ever… namely modern English… to do something so simple as respond to and identify with the observations, announcements and queries of friends, relatives, colleagues and phishers. They need to be guided. And I think I figured it out. May I modestly propose the following:

Goodnight folks. Remember to “exonerate” this blog on your respective walls.