The Social Network

There’s a flurry of activity around Facebook these days. They just bought Instagram for a cool billion, went public (its stock tanking) and is rumored to be sniffing around Opera Software. They’ve also been hiring engineers who worked on the iPhone (though strangely, not Android cough), making the rumored Facebook phone seem, more or less, a fait accomplit.

A New York-based designer made some mock-ups of what the Facebook phone UI could look like, which at least the people at The Verge seem to like. In my humble opinion, they look pretty much like the old Facebook app (seen here) with one of the stock iPhone backgrounds. Don’t get me wrong: I like the mock-ups more than the current app, which I don’t find very appealing at all, but still.

I understand that Facebook wants to make sure they remain relevant, and grow beyond being “just” a social network. But the thing is, at the moment, Facebook is just a social network. The biggest, certainly, and one that will be around for a long while yet, but still a social network. (Of course, Google started out as a search engine and look at them now.)

I like new gizmos, so I’m not about to dismiss this thing out of hand, but these phones surely have more functionality than just being plugged into Facebook? Unless they’re extremely cheap, who would buy a single-app phone except attention-starved teens and possibly Julia Allison?

Would it be another Android fork, following on Amazon’s lead? That would certainly appear the easiest option; building another ecosystem from scratch seems downright foolhardy. Microsoft’s new Windows phone line hasn’t exactly set he world on fire yet, though its marketshare will surely grow. (From what I’ve seen, it’s really good) And Facebook isn’t Microsoft.

But my biggest fear is that the rumor that they’re buying Opera shold turn out to be true. I love Opera and have used it for years. It’s quick as lightning and very customizable. The built-in email client is also great, and where Chrome is like a crowbar to Ubuntu’s head on my netbook, Opera takes flight like The goddamn Rocketeer. The idea of Facebook buying Opera, sticking a blue shell on it and running ads and shitty Zynga games in the sidebar, all while broadcasting “Christian just checked into” in the timeline, is infinitely depressing. I understand that Opera needs to make more money than they do now, but I really hope they get another investor.

Maybe I’m being too negative, but this is the age of crass avarice, breakdown of privacy and corporate global takeover, after all. Hubris and meglomania are traits to admired, while subtlety and quiet purpose need not apply. Not now, maybe not ever again.

28.05.2012 • Permalink

what does it mean that you are a Geek in the first place? That you like Star Trek? That’s cool,Star Trek is rad, but it’s not exactly a thing to be proud of, is it? Not like climbing a mountain. You should be proud if you climbed a mountain, climbing a mountain is hard (I assume; I have not climbed a mountain, nor will I, because after you get to the top of the mountain you have to go back to the bottom of a mountain, and if I wanted to be at the bottom of a mountain I could easily accomplish this by staying on the ground).

Threat Quality


27.05.2012 • Permalink

The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.

G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday: a Nightmare (1908)

20.05.2012 • Permalink