This is not a post about open, about standards, about privacy, or really any criticism of Facebook in any way. In fact, the problem is just how unbelievable the Facebook team is (in a good way). The sheer strength of their talent is almost unmatched in our industry, past and present. The problem is, all that talent is building something I just don’t care about, and no one is left for anything else.
Facebook doesn’t provide me with anything useful.
When it comes to staying connected to the people I care about, they either live with me, I talk to them on the phone weekly, or have an annual dinner when I visit Israel or New York. This is just enough for me. There is a reason why I am not in touch with people from high school, the army, or film school. We all moved on, became different people, changed context, and lost the common thread that united us at the time. My personal Facebook experience of finding long lost friends is mostly a short awkward exchange followed by a one sided stream of useless information.
When it comes to content, I much rather rely on the editorial board of the New York Times for my news, than what my “friends” find interesting. The idea that people I care about are in any way relevant to my news consumption has never produced useful results. When it comes to news, I want to be “friend” with the editors of the New York Times, and when it comes to buying a digital camera, the reviewers at DPReview.
My family and friends are uniformly challenged when it comes to world affairs or digital cameras. Maybe it is just me, but in my offline world, information and sharing works perfectly fine without Facebook. As for casual chatting, games, and leaving comments on people’s photos – I choose to spend my free time doing something else. Instead of dealing with people’s shit, I rather handle chicken shit.
I am in no way suggesting that almost 600 million people are wrong. The massive and highly engaged Facebook user base clearly gets value and satisfaction from the product. I am also in no way critical or judgmental about those who find value there. Good for them! But for me, there are so many other unsolved problems in the world, and they have little to do with social.
Last month at Open Web Foo, sitting outside with about a dozen of some really smart and highly connected folks, I asked people to name three “wow” experiences they had with new web products in the last year. Most had none to share. I asked them to think back 3 years and the list filled up in minutes.
Forget about solving the world’s problem – if you don’t care for Facebook, the web it just boring. It’s stale.
There are many reasons why engineers want to work for Facebook, from the potential windfall to learning just how they are able to ship so much technology so fast. It is an engineering dreamland. But there is one great reason why they shouldn’t: because Facebook will be great without them, but the web might not.