Jeswin proposes that Facebook has failed, explaining that the more you use Facebook, the worse it gets. He describes a login screen with 30 stories on it, four of which are interesting, and blames Facebook for encouraging its users -- especially commercial users -- to share in ways that make the experience worse for everyone.
I don't have a Facebook account and tend not to pay much attention to stories about the service, but I was struck by this: "their product looks like one of those spam filled mailboxes from the nineties." One of the claims for walled gardens is that they're able to use a combination of data-mining and the ability to kick out bad actors to make your inbox spam-free. I've always felt that this was wildly oversold: the hardest-to-deal-with "spam" in my inbox is stuff from people I know, or who know me, and who want attention from me for something that is worthy but that I lack time for (if I pay attention to their stuff, I'll have to neglect something else I've already committed to). Facebook makes it easier for more people to do this, which always sounded like a recipe for disaster to me. Likewise the ability to exclude bad actors: once you get to Facebook's size, you can't police spammers and crazies in realtime -- they pop up faster than you can get rid of them. Every walled garden I ever used, all the way back to Compuserve, had problems with bad actors who'd fill up your screen with commercial pitches, hatemail, and other undesirable junk.
I was also struck by Jeswin's contention that Facebook gets worse the more you use it. That was certainly my experience in the brief time I was on Facebook; as I wrote in How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook, the more people there are on a social network, the more people there will be inside your social graph that you don't want there, but can't exclude for social reasons. This essay's been reprinted a lot, so I'm guessing it struck a chord for many people.
For me, the problem with Facebook is that it doesn't exist to enhance your social experience -- rather, it's there to monetize it, and if the best way to get rich from your social relationships is to distort them so that they become dysfunctional and a source of pain and anxiety, that's exactly what they're going to do....MORE