Facebook v. Twitter vol.1

Why Not Facebook?

Facebook aims to integrate with your online life
There’s a future where everything you do that involves a computer (including a smart phone) will be on Facebook; It’s not hard to imagine this.  Facebook already wants all of your photos on their servers tagged with pictures of everyone you know who also happen to be on Facebook.  Facebook already wants all your events and parties and band performances broadcast through their website.  Facebook already wants to be your gaming hub where you interact with other people playing games or watching movies on their XBox, iPhone, Boxee and Laptops.  Facebook seems to want a future where you go to facebook.com for all your communication needs be they text, email or chat.  

Relinquishing your identity
The way Facebook works is by giving up your information to the developers in the Facebook Platform.  The Platform is used by programmers to ask for and utilize any info you grant them access too, often times you don’t know what that is.  So If I log in to a blog and make a comment about an interesting article with my Facebook ID, that website could potentially use all the data about me and my friends.  If I’m playing a game on my iPhone and I want to compete with friends on Facebook, I log in with my Facebook ID and grant that gaming developer access to my friends and my information.  There are a lot more examples and granular details to this, but this is the gist of it.

Why relinquishment is needed
The benefit of you sharing your information is that all these websites and games (and millions of other “things”) create a mini universe among you and your friends.  Some one requests access to you and your friends’ information in order for these sites and games to work properly.  There are ways to turn this off but then you must live outside of the universe and live without the connectivity the Facebook Platform provides.  This is unlike the Apple Game Center available on the iPhone which creates a gamer world that you can interact and compete with your friends in.  

An alternative (for example)
Apple’s Game Center for iPhone requires only a user name and password to register.  You then find friends by emailing them an invitation to play with you.  We can see what games each of us have, what our high scores are and challenge each other.  You’re giving up a certain amount of data about yourself but it’s secluded to the games you’ve purchased through the iTunes App store; no surprises here.  Facebook finds friends for you “when you import contacts into Facebook from your email, mobile, instant messaging service, or other social network,”  Facebook retains this address book until you request it’s release found here.  Interestingly, I have requested the removal of this address book twice tonight yet it’ remains on their servers.  The benefit of uploading all your contacts’ info is that you now have a centralized location, owned by Facebook, to find your buddy’s phone number or email address.  

Is Facebook too powerful?
There are some very interesting things that Facebook is doing here.  No doubt the platform they’ve created is very powerful.  My fear is that it’s too powerful.  Those of you who know me know that I’m usually at the forefront of most technologies.  I’m the guy you came to to set up your TiVo, to know what games to buy for your new iPhone and you asked me how to transfer music from one iPod to the other.  If I didn’t know the answer, I knew where to find it.  I’m not sure I’ve written a concise explanation as to why you should leave Facebook in your past and start 2011 with a Facebookless future.  I can only wave my hands, point to some general Facebook practices and tell you that this is too much data and power for one company to have.  

Well now what?

Look, I get it
You want to keep in touch with your high school classmates.  You want to see pictures of your nephew because you don’t get to see him as much as you’d like (this guy does).  You want a single platform to go to that allows you to interact with all your friends and integrates with millions of places on the internet.  Facebook has become the hub of your life.  How could you ever live with out it?  Need I remind you there was once a life BF (before facebook)?

What needs to be replaced with the absence of Facebook?
We want a universal addressbook, a place to share photos and videos, a way to chat with a group of friends and share “stuff” from everyday life and a place to tie all this stuff together.  For the most pat that’s really easy.  Twitter!  

Many apps within one voice
Before we get to Twitter, let’s quickly look at some platforms that can replace your Facebook fix.  I’ll warn you though, there is no single replacement for Facebook.  It does what it does very, very well but the reason you’ve read this far is that maybe you’re not so thrilled about one platform maintaining all your content.  All the following applications and web service are at the top of their game.  I encourage you to search for them online and see what they have to offer.  I use almost all of these for one reason or another.  If you follow this blog, http://oxjox.posterous.com/ stay tuned as I comment on each of them in the coming months.

Photographs: Flickr, Picassa, Twitpic.  
Videos: Youtube, Flickr, Vimeo.  
Group Discussion: WordPress, Posterous, Google Groups.  
Contacts and Calendars: Google Calendar, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Outlook, iCal.  
Status Update: Twitter, FriendFeed, Google Profile.  
Chat: Google Talk, Skype, FaceTime

Twitter = Facebook Wall
As I’ll explain later, Twitter becomes what was your Facebook Wall.  You create accounts at these sites (if you have a gmail.com address you’re more than half way there) and link to them in a tweet.  It may appear complicated at first but with some simple organization techniques, it’s actually quite easy and honestly a lot of fun.  


Common response
The most common response I hear after I mention Twitter to non-users is “I don’t need to tell people when I’m taking a crap”.  That’s quite wonderful that you feel that way and I do hope you’re not one to let the world know when your bowels are letting loose.  We can touch upon the best uses of twitter in another post, but let’s stay focused on Facebook replacement for now.  Incidentally, this conversation led to the invention of a new social networking platform dubbed “shittr”.

What is Twitter?
Twitter allows you to set status updates, share pictures, carry on conversations in public or private, let people know where to find you, read current trending topics, link to other websites and tons more.  Twitter is such an open platform that it practically allows you to do anything you want.  Most times though, you first need to start what you want to do somewhere else.  Twitter can almost be viewed as the Facebook Wall.  You do something somewhere and then it pops up on your wall for any of your friends to see.  

Twitter is a more focused “wall”
On Facebook, your stuff just pops up when I log in and there, in all it’s glory, is that fancy new kitchen you just completed construction on.  Contrary to pretty much the opinion of every person I’ve discussed Twitter with for the past three weeks, Twitter is far LESS intrusive than Facebook.  Rather than being inundated with useless information about your ex-girlfriend from middle school’s impacted wisdom tooth and the urine smell your aunt can’t find the source of, you can quickly scroll through tweets from people you actually care to listen to.  You can opt-in for updates via emails, text message, iPhone notifications or desktop alerts when people mention you in a tweet.  By mentioning someone that you don’t follow or that doesn’t follow you, @peeweeherman for instance, you’ll show up in a “mentioned” feed.  So if Aunt Can’t-find-the-pee-smell wants to say hi, “@myfriend How are you nephew?!” she can do so without the need for either of you following each other or popping up in each other’s twitter feed.

Your Twitter feed is your “wall”
The applications and web services mentioned above are great for uploading your data but how do you get the word out?  This comes down to the specific platforms / websites that you’re using and what program you’re using to do your tweeting.  For the most part, due to the limited amount of letters you can use in a tweet, you need to utilize a URL Shortener http://bit.ly/hYMobB  bit.ly seems to be one of the more popular ones.  So let’s say you want to tweet the announcement of a new holiday photo album to a friend of yours.  The tweet might looks something like this, “@myfriend We had the most delicious deep fried turkey for Christmas this year! Glad the house remained intact! http://twitpic.com/e/v6f“.  Here, I used the twitpic service and linked to the event Christmas Dinner 2010.  If you were to make a comment, I’d be notified of it if I’ve opted to receive alerts.  You may want to retweet (RT) my tweet to let followers of yours see that I posted something interesting.  The more this occurs, the more people around the world are able to interact with a simple tweet.  This is not possible with Facebook.  In this respect, Twitter is a true social network where as Facebook is a secluded network.

Search is one of the more powerful aspects of Twitter.  Let’s say I’m looking for someplace to eat tonight in Philadelphia.  I’ve heard great things about this new restaurant called Barbuzzo.  I’ve looked up Barbuzzo on Yelp.com and see a number of great reviews but what’s going on there right now?  I can see some people really like certain menu items tonight, I can see photos of the food taken within the past couple hours, I can see that the owner are discussing expansion plans with the press and I can see that there’s a $55 beer night coming up with some of my favorite beers.  This is called Crowd Sourcing.  I’ve searched for specific information and was answered with several very on-point responses from mostly every day people just like me.  Sometimes you might find a Twitter Search more effective than a Google Search.

Making friends on Twitter
I’ve had a wonderful meal at Barbuzzo and I want to write up a review on yelp.com.  I do so and click this button that says share on Twitter.  There’s also a share on Facebook button but if I clicked on that I would only be sharing with my friends on Facebook.  Twitter reaches far beyond my little social network and allows anyone to search for my review.  I’ve not only helped out my friends but people I’ve never met.  They might decide to go to Barbuzzo because of my review and then thank me for it via Twitter and maybe even become a friend.  Most everyone I’ve spoken with, including those not on Twitter, agree that Facebook is about maintaining or rekindling friendships and they concede that Twitter allows one to create new friendships.  I’ve made some truly great friendships with Twitter.  I can not say I’ve made any new friends from Facebook.

Ok, really, what’s step 1?
Aside from Search, let’s look at specific Twitter accounts you may be interested in.  Many people just don’t know what to do with Twitter because they have nothing to say.  You don’t have to have anything to say.  If you’re at all interested in the world around you or even just the world inside your television set, there’s something for you on Twitter.  I’m just going to link to some interesting Twitter feeds and hopefully when you read this article you’ll find something interesting to you.  This will conclude volume 1 of Twitter V Facebook.  Let me know how things work out for you!


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