Facebook Looks Beyond Like, But Not Far Enough - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
9/23/2011
06:52 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Facebook Looks Beyond Like, But Not Far Enough

Facebook says it's defining a new language for how people connect. In this limited language, you are what you eat, watch, read, and buy.

Facebook's vocabulary is about to expand. Sadly, the range of supported expression will continue to be inadequate to represent people's passions.

At the moment, Facebook supports the word "Like." It's the lowest common denominator of enthusiasm.

Among affirmations that include such gems as "Adore," "Revere," and "Worship," "Like" verges on damning with faint praise. It's cheap, so much so that it gets tossed into, like, every other sentence uttered by those unwilling or unable to choose their words carefully.

It's a milquetoast expression of enthusiasm, ready-made for the disinfected world of marketing, where you can say anything about the product as long as it's positive.

Now Facebook wants to add new words to the mix. At the company's F8 developer conference last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared, "We're helping to define a brand-new language for how people connect."

For further details about Facebook's F8 conference, read Facebook Turns Profile Into Timeline

The new language will provide Facebook app developers with the ability, as Facebook describes it, "to customize the stories that people will generate when they use your app."

These stories will be written in the language of surveillance--not the sinister silence captured by security cameras, but the child-safe terms of social networking.

Apps written using the revised Open Graph API will be able to define actions and objects to be recorded and shared with the world through Facebook's new Timeline user profile. They will be able to publish statements like "Thomas Claburn registered for the New Game conference on EventBrite" or "Thomas Claburn watched The Wire on Netflix." Open Graph apps will share these actions through users' Facebook Timelines.

Facebook developers are no longer limited to soliciting "Likes." In theory, this sounds like freedom, as if the Open Graph API was actually open.

But in practice, the range of sharable expression will remain confined to happy, inconsequential chatter.

"Your app must publish actions that are simple, genuine and non-abusive," Facebook states in its platform rules. And to make sure apps define appropriate actions, all actions defined by developers must be submitted for approval.

Zuckerberg called such sharing "lightweight," and made much of the fact that Facebook's Timeline will archive this dross for posterity.

"Before today, there was no socially acceptable way to express lightweight activity," he said. Be thankful that after today you'll still be able to look beyond Facebook for more substantive social interaction.

Facebook apps will be unable to express the things that people really care about. There will be no actions like loathed, mourned, protested, boycotted, or overthrew. There will be no condemnations of injustice or declarations of political fury.

Apps, in other words, will remain a neutered form of media, unable to contain the rage makes books, music, and film socially relevant and valuable. Apps will be ads. At best, they will be half-truths.

"Timeline is the story of your life," said Zuckerberg. "All your stories, all your apps, a new way to express who you are."

In the words of Facebook apps, you are what you eat, watch, read, and buy.

The Virtual Cloud Connect Conference event will tackle the issue of reliability. Join us Sept. 29 for a look at the techniques that can turn unreliable cloud platforms into rock-solid applications. Find out more and sign up.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll