Monday, February 2, 2009

Peer pressure

I finally gave in and joined Facebook. It turns out that it's as bad as I thought, and worse.

I much prefer to use a simple tool that does one job well. I don't need my refrigerator to connect to the internet or my phone to make toast. I don't want to scroll through a dozen irrelevant menus that make it harder to use the thing for its main purpose. But that's the modern way, to add features just because you can, not because they're a good idea.

So similary, I like Twitter and Flickr and a blog and messageboards that all different things well. I never longed for a one-stop-shopping experience, so there was no problem that I needed something like Facebook to solve.

But it turns out, it's not just that it tries to do too many things, it's that it can't even decide on one way to do each of them. There are several slightly different ways to post things, several slightly different ways to see material displayed... Basically, the thing seems to have been designed by a committee that gave up and, instead of making any choices among competing alternatives, just decided to do everything, no matter how confusing that was.

It's better than MySpace because at least people don't make sites with horrible designs and music. But instead, it's got a totally bland design that you can't customize at all - I feel like I am hanging out in a bus station. It's a clean, well-lit bus station, but it's exactly that comfortable and stylish.

I don't get it. I don't know how this became so popular. But, as we know from the case of Microsoft, bad design is no obstacle to worldwide dominance in software. I can only surmise that this is one of those things that's a result of EVERYONE being on the internet now. I suppose many of these people have only ever used badly designed software, so they don't even imagine there could be an alternative.

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