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The Decline of Facebook

3 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Nov 14, 2010 6:41 AM by Matthew Wilson

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Bruce Eckel

Posts: 874
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

The Decline of Facebook (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Nov 11, 2010 3:51 PM
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Summary
This is another article that originated on my Reinventing-Business blog but might also be interesting here.
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Here's the article.

Feel free to read there and post comments here.


robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: The Decline of Facebook Posted: Nov 11, 2010 8:43 PM
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-- The next version of social networking -- the one that serves the actual users, and which Google could easily do -- will allow me to effortlessly set up groups and have people ask to be friends of a particular group.

Sounds a job for a Relational Database. I've been amused by the kiddie coders who flock to things like xml files (and its rigid hierarchy) to implement *networks*. What happened long before any of them was born (about 1963) was the creation of a network database store, wherein one could specify some fixed number of "parent" records for a given type of "record". IBM, not wanting to pay the requisite fee, concocted a simpler single parent datastore, called it IMS, and hierarchy became embedded in the IT consciousness.

But few relations are hierarchical, not even organization charts, which are posited as the archetype. (And, no, for those that say, "well the family tree is pure hierarchy". No, it really isn't. There are multiple parents, due to serial polygamy, as true hundreds of years ago as it now, though back then death was the main driver.) Individuals routinely have multiple bosses, depending on task, location, project, etc. The xml zealots have spent the better part of a decade attempting, futilely, trying to patch in relational semantics while never, ever saying the word, Relational. It's quite a farce.

This post struck this chord because the PostgreSQL site has some activity going on now, due to the presence of MySql advocates at their recent event. MySql, apparently, is the DB of choice for FaceBook, but whether MySql is used in any meaningfully Relational way is moot. The MySql and PostgreSQL folks were/are "discussing" the meaning of FaceBook "using" MySql.

I've no idea which is the chicken and which the egg here. Are the FaceBook folks clueless about data stores because they're clueless about data models? Or did they adopt a clueless data model because they chose the data store that All The Cool Kids Use (but is utterly primitive in execution)?

Would FaceBook have built support for the Relational Way that Bruce seeks if it had been built from the beginning on a real RDBMS? Probably, just because such a motivated choice would have been made by folks who understand data models.

Abel Avram

Posts: 1
Nickname: aabelro
Registered: Nov, 2010

Re: The Decline of Facebook Posted: Nov 12, 2010 2:25 AM
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I have the same issues with Facebook. To avoid some of them I use the Facebook account for friends, and the LinkedIn one for co-workers, job-related relationships. I also edited the "Share" option so some of the postings can go to selected people.
In my opinion, there is no alternative to Facebook yet, there won't be one soon, and most people don't seem to care their info is used by advertisers. I personally don't play anything on it because they all want my personal data. Google is less intrusive indeed. I don't even notice their ads in GMail.
As a general conclusion: I find Facebook helpful, a bit noisy. Hopefully they will get better in time.

Matthew Wilson

Posts: 145
Nickname: bigboy
Registered: Jun, 2004

Re: The Decline of Facebook Posted: Nov 14, 2010 6:41 AM
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> I have the same issues with Facebook. To avoid some of
> them I use the Facebook account for friends, and the
> LinkedIn one for co-workers, job-related relationships. I
> also edited the "Share" option so some of the postings can
> go to selected people.
> In my opinion, there is no alternative to Facebook yet,
> there won't be one soon, and most people don't seem to
> care their info is used by advertisers. I personally don't
> play anything on it because they all want my personal
> data. Google is less intrusive indeed.

Is not doing "social networking" at all a valid alternative, or am I being laughably reactionary and jejune?

I don't have a FaceBook account mainly because it just seems so incredibly lame. I simply can't imagine what one might get from a "friend"ship of such quality.

AFAIK, I'm a pretty good demographic hit for FB. I live on the opposite side of the world from my home, and my family, whom I miss a great deal. But I can't imagine how reading/making "status updates" could address that.

Another reason I don't do social networking is that I can't abide doing what everyone else does. Wisdom of the crowd? Well, that gives us a prurient obsession for the mundanities of the lives of entertainers, western democracy and the professional political class, wings of politics separated by a gnat's wingspan who confect mutual detestation as a substitute for vision, etc. etc. etc. Wisdom of (some of) the individuals is far more compelling.

Furthermore, I can't stand people. Don't get me wrong, I have huge affection and respect for many persons, but human beings, en masse, are a pretty pathetic lump. This is one of the challenges of having children of a certain age: teaching them that the vast majority of persons are, while imperfect, doing their best with good intentions, while groups of people are unthinking entities that make truly dumb choices.

Finally, who has the time for all that chuff? I can barely keep on top of my work+family+exercise+hobbies+writing; I can't fathom where I would muster the time to be posting about the minutiae of my life, or the interest to be reading about those of others.

Or maybe I'm missing something?

> I don't even notice
> their ads in GMail.

Agreed. It probably happens only about three times a year.

> As a general conclusion: I find Facebook helpful, a bit
> noisy. Hopefully they will get better in time.

For me it's (hopefully) an awkward, ugly, abusive, and short phase towards a better future, wherein connectivity is done for the purpose of enriching lives, and not pockets.

(Oh dear, I sound like a major hippy!)

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