Posts with tag "Facebook"

Tentative steps to return our online profiles to us

Facebook would like us to believe that they are the best equipped to handle our online profiles. Twitter would like us to think of them as their buddy that we can trust to open all the doors for us.

As nice of them to do this why is no-one asking why we, the users, can’t control our own profiles, control what they can use and share. Why is it always about some third party company being the better keeper of our online profile?

Well if Mozilla has anything to say about it we might actually have an alternative. An alternative that let’s us control our online profile. It’s called Account Manager and for now is just an experiment but one that I would love to see being taken up by all the browsers and websites.

Being framed as a one-click portable identity manager that is built on what Mozilla is hoping will become an open specification. At this point the project consist of an early experimental plugin for developers to play around with but Firefox is apparently looking to ship the feature as soon as they can.


The Facebook Dilemma

There is no denying the fact that Facebook has changed the Web and while it remains to be seen if this is a change for the better that isn’t stopping a large number of people in the tech industry and blogosphere from being concerned about the change. Personally the changes that Facebook is bringing about only further my own deep concerns about the company and its motives.

The problem is that we, both users and content producers, are facing a big dilemma. We are being forced to make a decision. Either we are on the side of the Facebook Web or we are on the side of the Other Web and I got to say before anything else this is incredibly unfair.

For the user the decision is really simple. If you don’t care about what Facebook is doing then you can carry on with your FarmVille playing and Liking of stuff where ever the Facebook Like button shows up. Those however who don’t agree with what Facebook is doing the decision is a lot harder.

Do you continue on using the service with the hope that there will be enough pressure put on Facebook to make them change or do you decide that it is time to walk away from the service, either permanently or temporarily. Either way the user’s trust has been abused and having to make this decision only adds insult onto that abuse.


A new generation, The same HailStorm

I make no bones about it, I’m an old fart. Hell, in terms of Internet speed of time I’m probably a dinosaur. All that means though is that I’ve been around this business for a very long time. Long enough to remember when 300 baud acoustic modems were the hottest ticket around and could set you back a small fortune.

I’ve also been around long enough to see ideas being constantly repeated even though each new wave of smart alec code jockeys proclaimed that it was all new and world changing. Sure the interfaces might have been spiffied up and the undercarriage given a new coat of grease but in the end what we all would like to think is new is .. well .. old.

As fast as Internet time might be the only thing faster it seems is people’s ability to forget what has come before. I think about this a lot as I watch the discussions rage around companies like Facebook, Twitter, OAuth, xAuth, OpenID. I watch as the goal posts once set around identity, privacy and what was acceptable to the community (the real Net community) being moved ever so slowly away from the user.


The Objectification of people

So, how does it feel to be nothing more than an object because in Facebook’s eyes that is all you are. You have been reduced down to nothing more than a social object that can be sliced and diced making it easier to stick in some mathematical formula.

It is understandable why there is the need by companies like Facebook to dehumanize the person who joins and uses their service because things like emotions and personality can’t be stuffed into equations. So every effort is made to remove those emotions and personalities thereby creating this social object which can then be quantified. By reducing the individual down to a set of numbers services like Facebook can then work their mathematical magic benefiting themselves with cleaner data that can be sold or manipulated.

To understand why this process is important we first have to know what a social object is and really there is no better description that the one from Hugh Macleod, who pretty well invented the term as far as I know.