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Trying out the new Facebook

Saturday, March 14, 2009 by Dave Winer.

I'm only vaguely aware of Facebook. Not sure why, but I never really got into it.  Permalink to this paragraph

Even so, some of my Twitter posts make it through to Facebook, so every once in a while I get a comment "over there" -- and that's how it feels to me, far away.  Permalink to this paragraph

I had a few minutes this morning to check out the changes they've made and found it's much more accomodating from the point of view of a Twitter user. Permalink to this paragraph

A few observations. Permalink to this paragraph

1. On the home page you have a box. Instead of asking what you are doing, it asks what's on your mind. Small difference, and in fact much of the time what I post on Twitter is what's on my mind, not what I'm doing. I'm not one of those people who posts twits saying "I'm brushing my teeth," or whatever. Most of the time what I'm doing is none of anyone's business. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named bythesack.gif2. In that box you can type up to 160 characters. Twenty more than Twitter. Someone over there is marketing. If you're coming in second, you need to offer more. At first I wondered if it was unlimited. They must have really sweated over that decision.  Permalink to this paragraph

3. Now that it behaves like Twitter, the other features come into play, ones I've been begging Twitter for since the beginning. The ability to enclose photos and video is essential. Why no MP3? Don't they love podcasts? I wish they would change that. (Update: Although there is no UI for MP3, if you link to an MP3 it will read its metadata and present it to the author. It doesn't seem to provide an inline player though.) Permalink to this paragraph

4. Now I might be interested in developing for Facebook. But their API never interested me as long as I was confined to a little box in their page. This venue is more interesting. Is there an API to post a twit to Facebook? (Update: Seesmic released a version of their Twitter client for Facebook, which sort-of implies that there is a Twitter-like API for Facebook.) Permalink to this paragraph

5. People can comment on your Facebook twits without using up twit-space in their own stream? That's a question. Do comments I post show up to my readers? Permalink to this paragraph

6. Who can see my posts? My friends? Anyone? I think this is a major difference from Twitter, where everything is by default public. Here, I think everything is by default not public. Or maybe not public in any way. I'd love to see a Facebook for Twitter users howto. Are there enough Twitter users to make that worth doing? Permalink to this paragraph

7. Now I see what they mean about how it's a favor to FriendFeed. There's the Like command. They totally need to have that in Twitter. Retweeting is so lame. Like is what we need. Permalink to this paragraph

8. I don't like the way they link to things. I linked to this post over there, and there's this huge picture of me next to the link and an extensive quote. No no no. That's wrong. I want a little icon that means "click this to read more." Let me write the intro in the message I post. (Which I did. The excerpt is wrong.) Screen shotPermalink to this paragraph

9. Since (presumably) this text is staying within the Internet (and not being transmitted via SMS) why not allow styling -- bold, italic. Or maybe it is meant to go through SMS (hence the 160 character limit). Permalink to this paragraph

10. I really like the way they do pictures. But it should be possible to collapse them, so the picture stops taking up vertical space. That's the problem with media objects, they take up space. If you let the user collapse, then you can have it both ways. Win-win. Permalink to this paragraph

11. I know they're tacky but how about some animated smileys.  Permalink to this paragraph

12. Movies work great too.  Permalink to this paragraph

Summary: I like what they've done! Will I use it? Don't know. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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