Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's Up With Facebook?

I loved the idea of 'social networking'. I tried MySpace very early on, but it didn't do much for me because none of my friends were interested, and my account was inundated by spammers. Facebook is a different story, though. Their growth has been phenomenal, and I soon found a couple of people I know. Now people think you're strange if you don't have a Facebook page.

So what is it I like about 'social networking'. I like the idea of having a page that I can customise to reflect my personality and interests and I want to be able to share photos that friends can comment on. MySpace offers more customisation (colours etc), but Facebook offered these main features. And there was another thing; that little box where you could update your status. Some people hardly ever used this, or updated it once a week, or whenever something really major was happening in their lives.

And then along came Twitter. They took this 'status update' feature on it's own, called it micro-blogging, and created a new phenomenon of their own. And everyone was happy. Well not everyone apparently. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, saw the growing popularity of Twitter, and decided that that is what people really want.

A couple of facelifts later, and Facebook has changed completely. It used to be that the page people saw when they clicked on your name showed interesting stuff, like what books people were reading, what movies they had seen, or what music they were listening to. Now you see The Wall. All that other stuff is hidden away on another tab. Click on Home on your Facebook page, and what do you see. A very Twitter like stream showing the status updates from all your friends.

So Twitter took one aspect of Facebook, and made it a success. Now Facebook is trying to copy Twitter, and make the stream the focal point. How can they fix it? One of Facebook's faults has always been it's poor use of the available screen space. It has always been a very narrow, vertical website, not even utilising the full width of older 4:3 monitors. The other problem is there are too many tabs, and most just show different variations of the same thing. I say use that width to bring selected applications to the home page. The stream is fine, but include the bio, and apps like music, movies, books etc. Personally, I think there should only be 3 tabs; Home and Photo Albums, visible to anyone (decided by yourself) and Settings. That's it. Clean and simple. Then allow the users to position these frames as they like, around the main stream, and select their own colour schemes, to match their personalities. Oh, one other thing. Make the stream auto refreshing every few minutes. Now that would be a perfect.

Thanks for reading.