Jun 092008

Seems I’ve coined a new term tonight… “faceborg”.  Okay… seems others have come up with the same idea before me, as pointed out by others.  Not sure what to call the MySpace users… I’m sure someone will come up with a succinct term for them. 😉

Ever since social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook have come on the scene, the internet veterans have been under increasing pressure to join up with these sites.  Me?  I don’t see the point.  They don’t appear to offer anything new.  From what I can tell, they are centred around allowing someone to create their own identity.

The misconception out there among the non-technical people, is that you need to be part of one of these sites to have an online identity.  This is simply not true.  You can achieve much the same thing, through the use of traditional media such as email, IRC, and modern media such as blogs.

The one big “advantage” I keep hearing, is that it makes it easy to find others.  Again… you don’t need these social networking sites for that.  There are two ways you can achieve what these sites give you:

Keep your identity consistent.  If you like being known by a certain nickname, then use that nickname.  You can also put your real name up there too if you wish, and anything else that identifies you.

In my case, there are three identifying keywords that will locate me in many search engines: my full real name, my nickname, and my radio callsign.

The major thing that social networking sites offer however, is friendship lists.  Guess what… good ol’e HTML provides that already.  And blogs these days offer XFN.  You simply link to your friends’ blogs/webpages… and voila… your friendship is instantly publicised.  Many search engines also track links between sites — so they will also pick up on these links.

What are the advantages in having your own blog/site?  Well, you can have all the bells and whistles you like.  Want to post videos?  No worries, there are tools for doing exactly that, and embedding them in your blog posts.  The other big advantage, is you’re totally in control — you own the content, and you’re responsible for it.

How about messaging?  Well… you can add that to your blog… there are facilities that can accept such addons.  Or there’s a plethora of tools already out there… such as IRC, XMPP, MSN Messenger (dare I mention it), and of course, plain old email.

To those who are already on these social networking sites.  Great… you’re happy where you are… this is fine.  However, don’t be disappointed if the rest of us, who may likewise be happy with where we are on the web, don’t come rushing to join you.

  One Response to “Join the FaceBorg”

  1. “They don’t appear to offer anything new. From what I can tell, they are centred around allowing someone to create their own identity.”

    They offer an easy (and free) way for friends to communicate and share content. I think the main appeal is that you can sign up, find your friends, and begin to communicate with them without knowing anything too technical.

    In fact, I think the opposite is true, a lot of people on such sites don’t want an online identity.

    The appeal to savvy users of centralised networks like Facebook are well outlined by Zeldman in his blog post here: http://www.zeldman.com/2008/04/27/content-outsourcing-and-the-disappearing-personal-site/

    The average user doesn’t want to fuck around with a blog.