James Robertson asks an interesting question: “why was AOL looked down on, and Facebook is admired? Is it as simple as “all the cool kids like Facebook” ?”
First of all, most of the “cool kids” are over on Pownce, if truth be told.
But the business people are moving into Facebook very quickly.
Second, Facebook is no AOL.
Facebook is a Web app. THAT alone is a HUGE difference between AOL. I don’t need additional software, or to pay fees to get into Facebook.
It doesn’t work differently than my current Web does. Back when I joined AOL, in the late 1980s, it looked and worked COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY from Prodigy which worked completely differently from the BBS systems my friends ran.
AOL isn’t a walled garden. It’s something else.
Facebook is a data roach motel. Your data goes in, but it rarely leaves.
Heck, last night I was trying to use Anagram to see if I could easily save contact info from Facebook into Outlook. It wasn’t working. Turns out that it’s very hard to get data OUT of Facebook. (Anagram is a cool utility to grab emails, Web addresses, and other info off of emails and Web pages and add them to Outlook’s contact manager).
Look at how that cool new Google Reader app works inside Facebook. Data comes in, but it doesn’t leave.
That leads me to why Facebook is cool and AOL wasn’t. Facebook is somewhat open where AOL wasn’t open at all. Facebook is evolving rapidly because they opened up to third-party developers where AOL didn’t open up to third-party developers.
But it does have a little bit to do with the fact that I could kick idiots off of my Facebook experience at any time. I couldn’t do that with AOL and that’s what got it derided.