I just got an email from a friend of mine, which might not seem particularly atypical, and this turned out to be hack-spam from his Yahoo account. What was jarring about seeing mail from him in my inbox is that he has been dead for six months.
IRL, we move people to cemeteries or other repositories of the dead and keep our interaction space for the living. On social networks and other digital interaction spaces, there’s no particular cost and some respect shown by leaving the presence of those that have passed as it was when they last touched it. But in time, all social networks will fill with the static presence of the passed on. It may be a little less cheerful to log in to facebook when your friend’s list is dominated by those who can no longer answer a poke.
For some time now I’ve used Facebook as a broadcast channel for my content. That is, I post to my personal, self-hosted, on my own server, in my own house blog so I actually, unambiguously own my content. Then I let facebook rebroadcast it. That is, apparently, going to end.
They have decided that they will make it more difficult to use facebook to disseminate content facebook doesn’t own – that is any content you actually enter into the facebook interface is facebook’s and they chose whether to keep it or delete it, make money off it or bury it. You’re just an unpaid worker troll feeding their advertising revenue machine, and you will no longer let to play with their toys if you don’t play along.
Social networks are kind of cool, but it will be a good thing when facebook jumps the shark and we get the next iteration. It’ll be a sad day for everyone who has put a lot of effort into gifting facebook with as much content as they can though, when all that UGC goodness ends up on ebay’s used hard disks section for bargain hunters to sift through with disk recovery tools for their own amusement.
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