Facebook – AOL of the 21st Century?

Is Facebook the AOL (“America On Line”) of the 21st Century? Is Facebook intended to be a sandbox in which one can manage to entertain onesself, without venturing into the great beyond?

I only got on Facebook so I could monitor what my daughter was doing, as she insisted upon using it to connect with her friends. And the tipping factor might have been that her former tap teacher (who she just loves!) is on it after moving far away.

Of course, once exposed to any type of technology, the OSApostle must “figure it out!” So what are my impressions, besides wariness about security concerns?

Facebook in many respects is the AOL of the 21st Century. It seems like much of it is set up to keep people within the Facebook site, even as they view external materials such as blogs and other linked items. The first presentation of any “Link” item is within a frame, with the home still being the Facebook site. Even though one can, after a few clicks, get to the native page; but the default is to keep you on Facebook. The Social RSS application, which can show blog feeds on one’s FB page, also kindly offer to “subscribe” you to the feed — again in a FB-hosted feed reader. (Click on the Blog Name to go directly to feed, where Firefox will offer subscription options. … And if you go to read the article, at least in some settings, you can be take directly to the Blog, and subscribe there via other feed readers, including the commendable ones built into Firefox.)

There is indeed a bewildering array of “Applications.” (All these have their own privacy settings and policies. Aaaargh!!!) If you are using these, you are still on Facebook.

The most frustrating “captive” element, however, is the messaging facility. Do I really want to have to go to Facebook to read my email, when there are many superior programs or web-based solutions available?

As I look at things presently, I notice that the ads are not too thick. That is good, but it makes one wonder how profitable? Perhaps the things like “gifts” for sale help maintain profitability? … Of course, the other not-so-good ways people make money with web properties are:

  1. aggregate and sell information
  2. sell the whole operation

The first of these seems presently to have some protections in place. But should the second occur, … all bets are off! Of course, then there’s always the “delete” button! (Should it ever come to this, it’s probably best to delete all content before you “Deactivate Account.”)

I’ll continue to experiment with Facebook a bit, but I’m not going to live in the sandbox.

2 thoughts on “Facebook – AOL of the 21st Century?

  1. I found another article about Facebook in Wired that describes a competing vision for the future of the internet that accords with my observations. Essentially, FB wants to have a closed internet, where they can gather copious information from trusting users for targeting ads, etc. — all while keeping Google’s search crawlers away. It makes me even more uneasy than the “sandbox” metaphor. See: Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out.

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