Chris Messina nails it

I’ve been trying to find the words to explain why I love the public web. It’s messy, yes. Upcoming.org isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s event system. Flickr isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s photo sharing service. FriendFeed isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s news feed. Google’s AdWords aren’t quite as nice as Facebook’s advertising. YouTube and Seesmic and Qik put together aren’t quite as nice as Facebook’s video area.

Yet something about Facebook just doesn’t pull me in. It’s too clean. Too controlled. Not messy enough. And I feel like everytime I go in there I have to switch my mindset. Why do I do that? So I don’t get kicked off, for one. I continue getting emails from people who are getting kicked off just for doing stuff on Facebook. Irina Slutsky, former employee of mine, told me last night that she got kicked off simply for sending too many messages to her friends.

Chris Messina, who is one of the smartest developers in the industry, puts those feelings into a post that finally nailed it for me. Thank you Chris. Facebook=centralized planning. Facebook=Soviet Russia. We all know how that turned out!

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55 thoughts on “Chris Messina nails it

  1. Soviet Russia? As somebody who was in Eastern Europe right after the Wall came down, I don’t think that’s fair criticism at all.

    It seems to me that Facebook has gotten itself into trouble by being open, not by being closed. It opened its APIs and now it has to work to keep bad stuff from getting through them. That’s what all this kicking people off is about, isn’t it?

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  2. Soviet Russia? As somebody who was in Eastern Europe right after the Wall came down, I don’t think that’s fair criticism at all.

    It seems to me that Facebook has gotten itself into trouble by being open, not by being closed. It opened its APIs and now it has to work to keep bad stuff from getting through them. That’s what all this kicking people off is about, isn’t it?

    Like

  3. Soviet Russia? As somebody who was in Eastern Europe right after the Wall came down, I don’t think that’s fair criticism at all.

    It seems to me that Facebook has gotten itself into trouble by being open, not by being closed. It opened its APIs and now it has to work to keep bad stuff from getting through them. That’s what all this kicking people off is about, isn’t it?

    Like

  4. btw, I actually think Google is more like the Soviet Union. They want to take over the world. They’re sucking in everything they can get their hands on. And the only reason they want open social networks is because they know that nobody else has the machine to churn all that data and turn it into highly targeted advertising.

    It’s like a bank account. Facebook opened theirs and people are taking their money out. Google opened their bank account, too, but only to allow deposits.

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  5. btw, I actually think Google is more like the Soviet Union. They want to take over the world. They’re sucking in everything they can get their hands on. And the only reason they want open social networks is because they know that nobody else has the machine to churn all that data and turn it into highly targeted advertising.

    It’s like a bank account. Facebook opened theirs and people are taking their money out. Google opened their bank account, too, but only to allow deposits.

    Like

  6. btw, I actually think Google is more like the Soviet Union. They want to take over the world. They’re sucking in everything they can get their hands on. And the only reason they want open social networks is because they know that nobody else has the machine to churn all that data and turn it into highly targeted advertising.

    It’s like a bank account. Facebook opened theirs and people are taking their money out. Google opened their bank account, too, but only to allow deposits.

    Like

  7. I think the key here is that it’s *personal*. That teenage girl’s electric pink homepage with the dancing fruit on MySpace may look hideous, maybe that marketing guy’s page with ‘under construction’ and a page of corporate buzzwords is a bit of a turnoff — but it’s *theirs*. Those cookie-cutter Facebook pages are the web equivalent of the drab, grey concrete blocks of low-end government-built accommodation: indistinguishable and conformist.

    Dawn, I’m not sure about that “taking money out” analogy: Facebook have fought tooth and nail to prevent data leaving their walled garden, blocking applications and indeed users (including Scoble) who tried to violate this policy. Google may have ulterior motives as well, but they aren’t trying to fence our information in the way Facebook is (yet!)

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  8. I think the key here is that it’s *personal*. That teenage girl’s electric pink homepage with the dancing fruit on MySpace may look hideous, maybe that marketing guy’s page with ‘under construction’ and a page of corporate buzzwords is a bit of a turnoff — but it’s *theirs*. Those cookie-cutter Facebook pages are the web equivalent of the drab, grey concrete blocks of low-end government-built accommodation: indistinguishable and conformist.

    Dawn, I’m not sure about that “taking money out” analogy: Facebook have fought tooth and nail to prevent data leaving their walled garden, blocking applications and indeed users (including Scoble) who tried to violate this policy. Google may have ulterior motives as well, but they aren’t trying to fence our information in the way Facebook is (yet!)

    Like

  9. I think the key here is that it’s *personal*. That teenage girl’s electric pink homepage with the dancing fruit on MySpace may look hideous, maybe that marketing guy’s page with ‘under construction’ and a page of corporate buzzwords is a bit of a turnoff — but it’s *theirs*. Those cookie-cutter Facebook pages are the web equivalent of the drab, grey concrete blocks of low-end government-built accommodation: indistinguishable and conformist.

    Dawn, I’m not sure about that “taking money out” analogy: Facebook have fought tooth and nail to prevent data leaving their walled garden, blocking applications and indeed users (including Scoble) who tried to violate this policy. Google may have ulterior motives as well, but they aren’t trying to fence our information in the way Facebook is (yet!)

    Like

  10. Wow, from Facebook is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Hippy Pinko Commies, in under three months. Something to recall, the next time you wet your pants over the next hot hot new cool Web 2.0 tool.

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  11. Wow, from Facebook is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Hippy Pinko Commies, in under three months. Something to recall, the next time you wet your pants over the next hot hot new cool Web 2.0 tool.

    Like

  12. Wow, from Facebook is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Hippy Pinko Commies, in under three months. Something to recall, the next time you wet your pants over the next hot hot new cool Web 2.0 tool.

    Like

  13. Hmmm. I get a kick out of the analogy, but I gotta disagree about Flickr – their photo sharing is massively better than Facebook’s. 🙂

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  14. Hmmm. I get a kick out of the analogy, but I gotta disagree about Flickr – their photo sharing is massively better than Facebook’s. 🙂

    Like

  15. Hmmm. I get a kick out of the analogy, but I gotta disagree about Flickr – their photo sharing is massively better than Facebook’s. 🙂

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  16. “Upcoming.org isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s event system. Flickr isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s photo sharing service…”

    I don’t know how you can just say this without any justification. Flickr isn’t as nice as Facebook’s photo sharing service? Facebook doesn’t even save them in high res!

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  17. “Upcoming.org isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s event system. Flickr isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s photo sharing service…”

    I don’t know how you can just say this without any justification. Flickr isn’t as nice as Facebook’s photo sharing service? Facebook doesn’t even save them in high res!

    Like

  18. “Upcoming.org isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s event system. Flickr isn’t quite as nice as Facebook’s photo sharing service…”

    I don’t know how you can just say this without any justification. Flickr isn’t as nice as Facebook’s photo sharing service? Facebook doesn’t even save them in high res!

    Like

  19. Dang. My wife was logged in to WordPress and I didn’t notice – *I* left the message about Flickr’s photo sharing being massively better than Facebook’s. And it is. Facebook has more photos, but the sharing interface is downright bad.

    Like

  20. Dang. My wife was logged in to WordPress and I didn’t notice – *I* left the message about Flickr’s photo sharing being massively better than Facebook’s. And it is. Facebook has more photos, but the sharing interface is downright bad.

    Like

  21. Dang. My wife was logged in to WordPress and I didn’t notice – *I* left the message about Flickr’s photo sharing being massively better than Facebook’s. And it is. Facebook has more photos, but the sharing interface is downright bad.

    Like

  22. I thought Irina was frozen because they thought she was a “fakester.” Did they tell her it was the message freq.? Do they say how many is too many?

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  23. I thought Irina was frozen because they thought she was a “fakester.” Did they tell her it was the message freq.? Do they say how many is too many?

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  24. a bit too trite i think… Facebook is hardly Soviet Russia. perhaps China, with a technical lead. but i think the analogies fall down for many other reasons.

    regardless you mention all the other things Facebook is doing “nicer”… it’s because they are building on top of their own platform, which they have designed for just such purposes.

    while i find both “gated” & ungated communities useful — i prefer platform to gated actually — Facebook is moving a lot faster than most other competitors, which wouldn’t appear to map to the central planning analogy you mention.

    just because it doesn’t suit your purposes Robert doesn’t mean it’s backward & closed. Windows didn’t suit everyone as well as Linux either, but somehow on the desktop it seemed to do ok for 10-15 years… and created a lot of value for plenty of people in the ecosystem as well.

    Like

  25. a bit too trite i think… Facebook is hardly Soviet Russia. perhaps China, with a technical lead. but i think the analogies fall down for many other reasons.

    regardless you mention all the other things Facebook is doing “nicer”… it’s because they are building on top of their own platform, which they have designed for just such purposes.

    while i find both “gated” & ungated communities useful — i prefer platform to gated actually — Facebook is moving a lot faster than most other competitors, which wouldn’t appear to map to the central planning analogy you mention.

    just because it doesn’t suit your purposes Robert doesn’t mean it’s backward & closed. Windows didn’t suit everyone as well as Linux either, but somehow on the desktop it seemed to do ok for 10-15 years… and created a lot of value for plenty of people in the ecosystem as well.

    Like

  26. a bit too trite i think… Facebook is hardly Soviet Russia. perhaps China, with a technical lead. but i think the analogies fall down for many other reasons.

    regardless you mention all the other things Facebook is doing “nicer”… it’s because they are building on top of their own platform, which they have designed for just such purposes.

    while i find both “gated” & ungated communities useful — i prefer platform to gated actually — Facebook is moving a lot faster than most other competitors, which wouldn’t appear to map to the central planning analogy you mention.

    just because it doesn’t suit your purposes Robert doesn’t mean it’s backward & closed. Windows didn’t suit everyone as well as Linux either, but somehow on the desktop it seemed to do ok for 10-15 years… and created a lot of value for plenty of people in the ecosystem as well.

    Like

  27. I’m afraid you misread my post, Robert, or at least the point I was trying to make. While there are certainly analogies to be made where any centralized system exists to the Communist approach to centralized government, the point I was really trying to make was that doing your own thing can be used both to innovate and push the envelope, but also to keep people (and external influence) out.

    That’s why I started the post with the quote about the different rail gauge widths. That Facebook is likely to have its own platform specfications — open source or not — means that they intend to compete directly for the attention that might otherwise go to the OpenSocial platform… which is kind of like pitting Communism and Capitalism against one another. It isn’t that Facebook IS the Soviet Union and that Google is “The West”. It’s just that we’re dealing with two very different ideologies that, when played out, will greatly effect the future of the landscape of the social web.

    Like

  28. I’m afraid you misread my post, Robert, or at least the point I was trying to make. While there are certainly analogies to be made where any centralized system exists to the Communist approach to centralized government, the point I was really trying to make was that doing your own thing can be used both to innovate and push the envelope, but also to keep people (and external influence) out.

    That’s why I started the post with the quote about the different rail gauge widths. That Facebook is likely to have its own platform specfications — open source or not — means that they intend to compete directly for the attention that might otherwise go to the OpenSocial platform… which is kind of like pitting Communism and Capitalism against one another. It isn’t that Facebook IS the Soviet Union and that Google is “The West”. It’s just that we’re dealing with two very different ideologies that, when played out, will greatly effect the future of the landscape of the social web.

    Like

  29. I’m afraid you misread my post, Robert, or at least the point I was trying to make. While there are certainly analogies to be made where any centralized system exists to the Communist approach to centralized government, the point I was really trying to make was that doing your own thing can be used both to innovate and push the envelope, but also to keep people (and external influence) out.

    That’s why I started the post with the quote about the different rail gauge widths. That Facebook is likely to have its own platform specfications — open source or not — means that they intend to compete directly for the attention that might otherwise go to the OpenSocial platform… which is kind of like pitting Communism and Capitalism against one another. It isn’t that Facebook IS the Soviet Union and that Google is “The West”. It’s just that we’re dealing with two very different ideologies that, when played out, will greatly effect the future of the landscape of the social web.

    Like

  30. Why should Google get to decide that “THE” platform should be?

    OpenSocial is bull shit wrapped up in gift paper. Google just wants to make sure their own DNA is in every single thing anybody builds.

    We already have an open platform. It’s called the Web.

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  31. Why should Google get to decide that “THE” platform should be?

    OpenSocial is bull shit wrapped up in gift paper. Google just wants to make sure their own DNA is in every single thing anybody builds.

    We already have an open platform. It’s called the Web.

    Like

  32. Why should Google get to decide that “THE” platform should be?

    OpenSocial is bull shit wrapped up in gift paper. Google just wants to make sure their own DNA is in every single thing anybody builds.

    We already have an open platform. It’s called the Web.

    Like

  33. Are you quite mad, Scoble? Lol. I have to say I disagree entirely – all the websites you listed are soo much better than Facebook’s feeble attempts to copy them. Facebook is like a swiss army knife – it’s got one of everything but they’re all smaller and less powerful versions than if you went and got individual tools.

    Of course, it depends what’s important to you. If you just want one website to sign into and get all that stuff that’s great. But you can’t say that Facebook’s photo feature is better than Flickr’s, which for me (did I mention I was opinionated? :)) trounces Facebook totally.

    I would take Twitter + Flickr + YouTube + FriendFeed any day over Facebook. Except, of course, that all my friends are on Facebook…

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  34. Are you quite mad, Scoble? Lol. I have to say I disagree entirely – all the websites you listed are soo much better than Facebook’s feeble attempts to copy them. Facebook is like a swiss army knife – it’s got one of everything but they’re all smaller and less powerful versions than if you went and got individual tools.

    Of course, it depends what’s important to you. If you just want one website to sign into and get all that stuff that’s great. But you can’t say that Facebook’s photo feature is better than Flickr’s, which for me (did I mention I was opinionated? :)) trounces Facebook totally.

    I would take Twitter + Flickr + YouTube + FriendFeed any day over Facebook. Except, of course, that all my friends are on Facebook…

    Like

  35. Are you quite mad, Scoble? Lol. I have to say I disagree entirely – all the websites you listed are soo much better than Facebook’s feeble attempts to copy them. Facebook is like a swiss army knife – it’s got one of everything but they’re all smaller and less powerful versions than if you went and got individual tools.

    Of course, it depends what’s important to you. If you just want one website to sign into and get all that stuff that’s great. But you can’t say that Facebook’s photo feature is better than Flickr’s, which for me (did I mention I was opinionated? :)) trounces Facebook totally.

    I would take Twitter + Flickr + YouTube + FriendFeed any day over Facebook. Except, of course, that all my friends are on Facebook…

    Like

  36. Do you recall how if you wanted Scoble-content last year one had to go to FB to get it? How do you reconcile this post with that?

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  37. Do you recall how if you wanted Scoble-content last year one had to go to FB to get it? How do you reconcile this post with that?

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  38. Do you recall how if you wanted Scoble-content last year one had to go to FB to get it? How do you reconcile this post with that?

    Like

  39. I liked the Soviet train story. It reminded me of Microsoft and their implementations of… well, just about anything they make.

    Whether it’s web browsers or document file formats, Microsoft has always resisted acceptance and implementation of existing standards (whether formal or de-facto) in favor of their own proprietary implementation, in order to make competition more difficult and in hopes that their implementation will become the de-facto standard.

    This has worked well for them in the past when there weren’t very many other “railroads”, but now the rest of the world would like to standardize the “track gauges” for improved interoperability, and Microsoft is looking like the Soviets in the analogy. Will Microsoft adjust their “track gauges”, or are their “interoperability” efforts nothing more than attempts to get the rest of the world to adjust theirs?

    Like

  40. I liked the Soviet train story. It reminded me of Microsoft and their implementations of… well, just about anything they make.

    Whether it’s web browsers or document file formats, Microsoft has always resisted acceptance and implementation of existing standards (whether formal or de-facto) in favor of their own proprietary implementation, in order to make competition more difficult and in hopes that their implementation will become the de-facto standard.

    This has worked well for them in the past when there weren’t very many other “railroads”, but now the rest of the world would like to standardize the “track gauges” for improved interoperability, and Microsoft is looking like the Soviets in the analogy. Will Microsoft adjust their “track gauges”, or are their “interoperability” efforts nothing more than attempts to get the rest of the world to adjust theirs?

    Like

  41. I liked the Soviet train story. It reminded me of Microsoft and their implementations of… well, just about anything they make.

    Whether it’s web browsers or document file formats, Microsoft has always resisted acceptance and implementation of existing standards (whether formal or de-facto) in favor of their own proprietary implementation, in order to make competition more difficult and in hopes that their implementation will become the de-facto standard.

    This has worked well for them in the past when there weren’t very many other “railroads”, but now the rest of the world would like to standardize the “track gauges” for improved interoperability, and Microsoft is looking like the Soviets in the analogy. Will Microsoft adjust their “track gauges”, or are their “interoperability” efforts nothing more than attempts to get the rest of the world to adjust theirs?

    Like

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