Deleting Facebook

April 8th, 2013

Most people know about deactivating Facebook (and my experience without it). What they don’t know is how to permanently delete it. On a help page, hidden away, they provide a link to delete all of your Facebook data if it’s been deactivated for a few weeks. The other day I decided to take that plunge and totally get off Facebook. I started by downloading all of my data with their archiving tool, and then using a third party tool to download all the photos I’m tagged in. Everything was all squared away, then, several things happened, making me almost forgetting why I was there.

I have a friend studying abroad in London and having not talked to her for a while I struck up a small chat with her. The value of spontaneously communicating with a far off friend is invigorating, needless to say it was probably the last thing I expected to do when I woke up that morning. Suddenly I never wanted to leave Facebook again, the interaction was invaluable. While chatting away and browsing idly between messages something else happened.
I was bombarded by dozens of statuses and posted pictures on the Facebook wall. Not necessarily just from people I haven’t seen in a long time, but people I recently broke up with, and even people I saw just yesterday. All this struck up a totally different flurry of emotions; not good feelings, a feeling that my life was not as great as theirs. The statuses were written in a voice that did not sound like the friend I actually associate with, there’s more bragging and facaded voices, never negative. Then, in the pictures everyone was smiling and having fun parties, which I would never have been aware of otherwise. I didn’t like any of it.

Again, the only thing saving this experience was the conversation with the friend I was involved with. It was still the best set of words I have exchanged recently. As the conversation was coming to a close I decided not to permanently delete my data, just deactivate my account again (redeactivate?). I definitely still do not like Facebook, there will hopefully be a day when I can delete everything, by that time Facebook will be yesterday’s MySpace and I won’t lose too many contacts. Today even though I’m not on Facebook, it’s where at a moment’s notice, all my friends are available for conversation, among other things.

Missing Facebook

January 22nd, 2013

I left Facebook in mid-October (I disabled my account so I guess I haven’t totally left). I’ve been just fine without it for months now and perfectly content. So why suddenly do I miss it just now? Currently on my last college winter break, I’m separate from the people I’m usually around the most and I simply want to know what/how they’re doing. Sure I could email them and ask, but that takes some effort! Reducing human interaction to a simple login and a few clicks is one of the reasons I decided to leave Facebook in the first place. The idea that I could get such satisfaction from reading a status – even from someone I don’t know that well – is disturbing from a more human perspective.

Other aspects I’ve noticed is that some of my friends’ faces start to blur in memory, I simply cannot remember what some people look like. I’m also not one to take pictures at events so I don’t have photos of them lying around. The question becomes how to I remedy all this? In time I found the answer was to just wait until you can see them again. Facebook can provide those nice gaps between seeing people, but it’s nothing in comparison to greeting them in person and having a face to face conversation, just like the old times.

Google+’s Rough Journey Ahead

July 19th, 2011

For a little more that a week now I’ve been using Google’s recently unveiled social network Google+.

It’s been a service long time coming, as it is not the first social network Google has put out. In the heydays of MySpace there was Orkut, which never ever really caught on, to this day I have never heard it spoken out loud in the States. Then there was Google Buzz which quickly had some lawsuits thrown at it that Google lost. Not long after that there was Google Wave which seemed to be more of a social collaboration suite than anything, I don’t think it ever even totally got out to the public.

However successful those products were (which they weren’t really), we now have Google+ which has been taking the web by storm! Tech pundits, bloggers, and economists alike have been raving about what it means for the company, Facebook and the web as a whole. So far I really like it over Facebook, the design is clean and consistent with the new theme Google is rolling out across their sites (see the new gmail look and CosmicPanda YouTube channel layout).

There are furthermore some stupendously ingenious UI features, being able to go through photo albums with the scroll wheel is a joy! You can also view more detailed metadata of the photos, like model of camera that was used and the f-stop etc. Haven’t tried Hangouts yet (because there aren’t too many people on which I’ll talk about later) but they look cool.

The idea of circles is a huge benefit for me, if you’ve ever tried to friend me on Facebook and I have not met you in real life or we’ve never really gotten to know each other, I will not accept the invite. On Google+ I just drag you into one of my circles that’s applicable and you’ll get a confirmation that you’re in one of my circles. You won’t know which circle, which is odd in itself, I’ve heard from one of my friends that he even got rid of the standard circles and made up the nine circles of hell from Dante’s Inferno. Humourous as it may be I can only wonder which circle I’m in.

However there’s still just one thing missing from the whole experience: people, you know the part of the network that makes it social. It’s like playing on a Minecraft server with four other people who don’t log on and build or talk to you much. This is where the title of this post comes in. Google+ has a long way to go, fancy UI features and design alone won’t bring people on board. The basic challenge is how do you draw people away from Facebook? I think what it will come down to is a few “key people” in a group of friends. I’ve written out two scenarios based based on this idea and and drawn from the fictional friend network below.

 

What “Lost”? no not at all, I know where I’m going with this. Here we have a network of friends on Facebook, granted it’s a very scaled down model, but let’s say this is ALL of Facebook.

Scenario 1: Jacob (he’s a little unpopular with only one friend) get’s Google+ loves it and uses it. Having no friends on there where’s the motivation or incentive for others to adopt? Richard might, half his friends just left him on Facebook. So Richard joins Jacob on Google+, Ben who now only has one friend (note: a popular one though) also follows the two on to Google+. Now there is still a large majority on Facebook, none of them even really care that these three people left Facebook however, Locke the most popular person here just lost one friend to the service. Through this model, the viral chain of adoption stops there and Jacob, Richard, and Ben all have Google+ to themselves.

Scenario 2: Locke leaves Facebook and carries all his photos over to Google+ because he just likes it a whole lot more and that it’s his destiny! Holy cow! Locke has pictures of everyone and everything they’ve done together, suddenly five friends just lost a bunch of photo data, this super cool popular guy just swtiched to Google+ maybe they should too? There’s now an incentive and motivation for others to switch. Within a couple of days, the whole network is on Google+, then Jack starts saying that they have to go back but no one really listens because they’re all already there.

Scenario 1 is essentially what’s happening on Google+ right now, a few tech savvy people who don’t really like Facebook to begin with have switched over but don’t really have enough voice among their group of friends to get everyone else over. To make matters more complicated you have to still be invited to the service from someone who already uses it. Scenario 2 is the challenge Google must rise to, getting those “popular” people off of Facebook and on to Google+. Of course everyone is not and early adopter and switcher like Locke, a lot of the people I’ve seen just try out Google+ to see what it’s like, I know no one who has converted entirely. Some things are just popular because they got to it and put themselves out there first, Internet Explorer, HuskyStarcraft, and Facebook. IE shows that it’s hard to draw people away even though there are better things out there; others, like Firefox and Chrome, have show that its possible though. Not the best example because those are just browsers, no interactivity between friends, if you switch browsers, there’s no social repercussion, when you leave Facebook, especially if you’re “popular”, you will leave waves where you once were; and your friends will balk at you in real life like you don’t have a cell phone or something (hopefully a minor exaggeration).

These challenges are hopefully known, and anticipated. In the end Google+ will take some time to get better and more people to adopt it, but it’s certainly possible and if any company can do it, it’s Google. Godspeed Google!

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