You know, I left Facebook. Elsewhere, I noted my concern about all the info flowing constantly off screen and out of mind. Every effort you make to add content to FB is ultimately washed away and lost. Your efforts may be noticed (or not), but they will be forgotten – and soon. “OK, yeah, move on, Mark.” But I do have some specific technical complaints to share with the geeks and nerds – my peeps, yo.
Let’s start at the top of the Home page with the blue command bar (or whatever FB calls it): This bar lets you move between various major functions. So, why doesn’t it stay at the top of the screen? Many times I move back to the top of the page to switch between Home and my Profile or Account. (In fact, I used a Greasemonkey script to keep the bar at the top, but a FB update broke the script.)
The notification icons: Indeed, these are much improved yet still so lacking. Click on one of the so-tiny notification icons for a list of items such as “So-and-so likes your link.” Which link, now? I’ve posted hundreds of links – would it kill FB to say “So-and-so likes [title of link or something specific]”? The notification icons *alert* you without really informing you, unless you follow each link.
The navigation area down the side: This is another potentially important area that could stay on screen all the time. Moreover, a FB update broke my use of lists, which helped me concentrate on friends in groups. The list function is there, but requires more clicks than before. That’s a legitimate gripe, especially if one visits FB multiple times a day – clicks add up.
Near the top of the home page, Top News Feeds versus Most Recent. News appears by default. If you select Recent, it will be the default for the rest of the day, but tomorrow you’ll be back to News as the default. Top News was a new feature that many people hated but had to learn to live with.
Notice we’ve already considered *three* important navigation/function areas, and we’ve barely started. Switch to your Profile and you have at least four new menu items, including the less-than-intuitive “Wall.” Quick: Explain the difference between Home, Profile, and Wall. Yeah, yeah, it’s easy, but isn’t this needlessly complex? And I know you know, but does everyone know that what they see in each of these areas is unique. This uniqueness of view should appeal to the individualist, but it actually complicates explaining differences to people – you simply don’t know how different my Wall is from your Home page or my view of your Home page. These differences are further complicated by Privacy options, although the fact that most people choose the extremes – Friends or Everyone – for everything rather than the absurdly exquisite tailoring that is possible for nearly every posting does simplify things de facto.
Consider status updates: Tell us what you’re thinking. Have you noticed that if you include a link (or photo, video, etc) in a status update it’s not a status update? Seriously. Status updates are text only. So, if you deal with FB by going to Friends > Status Updates, you’re missing every link, etc, your friends post. WTF?!
Speaking of Status Update, Comments, and other text boxes: On many occasions, I’ve started typing into a FB text box and found that when I reached the end of the second line of text, the box would not expand. I could continue typing, but I couldn’t see what I was typing. Fun. On many occasions, my cursor disappeared within the text box. If I clicked between two letters, I had to hope my cursor was where I thought it was (and often it wasn’t). All of which was made even more fun by the fact that you can’t edit anything once you enter it. How fucked up is that?
Lastly, I found that if I made a comment or clicked Like, I could no longer scroll down page by tapping the spacebar (my preference). In many cases, the arrow keys or Page Down/Up stopped working. I admit some of these things could be the fault of my browser (Firefox) or my many plug-ins.
I wont’ even go into the maze of pages, the complex Account options, or the fact that FB keeps going through major revisions that upset lots of users without every really getting it right. Facebook is overwrought but ineptly assembled. (And, yes, truth be told, I couldn’t build as ‘good’ a system, but it doesn’t take a tailor to see the Emperor is naked.)
An Alternative: Blog
Go to www.blogger.com (Google) or www.wordpress.com and you can set up a free blog in minutes. You’ll have beautiful templates at your disposal and gadgets and widgets galore. You can easily upload photos and videos and link to anything on the Web (unless it’s hidden behind FB’s wall or the like). You can edit with a click. The result is just like your FB Wall and Profile, with fewer complications and more options.
As for the social side – the alternative to your FB Home stream: Every blog generates an RSS feed (the little orange icon in your address bar or elsewhere on the page). Use RSS to pull the content from all of your friends’ blogs into one screen using an RSS reader (I recommend Google Reader).