@Skud: not sure how i feel about http://app.net
. i'm all for paid services to avoid values mismatch b/w users/advertisers/service operators
@Skud: but the sites i know that do that best (eg. @dreamwidth, @Pinboard) also have a very human/community feel that i don't see here
@nfagerlund: @Skud I feel that. W/ DW, I was immediately like “seems legit; I can tell who these folk are & how big it can get.” A.n is like Diaspora.
@nfagerlund: @Skud …by which I mean their story is critically incomplete in some way I can’t yet put my finger on.
@Skud: @nfagerlund yeah, i get that feeling too. which is not necessarily an impediment to their platform taking off...
@Skud: @nfagerlund ... but does mean that my gut feeling about them is a bit nervous
Yeah, so skud
was doubting on app.net
, and I am doubting on it too, and I don't have much more to say about said putative service at the moment. But I'm posting because I think I finally DID put my finger on what was wrong with Diaspora! And I am very proud of myself for it.
was meant to be Facebook without all the evil, right? Here's the problem with that: Facebook without the evil is NOTHING.
Because what the hell even IS Facebook? The answer changes significantly every nine or ten months. I joined it in January 2005 because it was a visual address book to my college, and I needed that when I was looking for a new sublet. Then it turned into a walled-garden email replacement. Then it turned into Flickr for spring break photos, then it finally managed to replace the .plan file, then it was also Livejournal for about a month, then it tried to be Craigslist for a summer, then it was Twitter with less focus, then it was a platform for shitty little games that you pay real money in order to not have to play. Now it's just sort of an undifferentiated mishmash, although it seems to be turning into Tumblr lately, mostly to accomodate George Takei.
Obviously there is no common thread. Facebook's soul is not in what it does for you or allows you to do. The product itself, the THING that Diaspora tried to copy, is frankly irrelevant. The one thing that has always made Facebook Facebook is that fucking practically everybody you know is on the goddamn thing, and they got there because Facebook was persistently and craftily evil.
The original short-lived college-scope restrictions on the thing were brilliant, because they made people let their guards down, join up, and put their personal info in. That made it easier for peoples' friends in other colleges to find them, which anchored them further in. All the effort to make it difficult to add people to your normal email address book meant that you were signing in on a regular basis to get/send messages, and would be more likely to see new friend requests and other activity, which would keep you interested. Let's not even get into that Zynga Skinner box. Etc. etc. etc. The only reason you're on Facebook now is because they were evil, and although you'd leave if your friends left, they're all still on there because of the evil. The fact that everyone is there makes Facebook a horrible place most of the time, but it also makes it indispensable, and the fact that you can't properly export your information makes it non-disposable and non-replaceable.
I don't think the people behind Diaspora ever understood any of that. They thought people were on Facebook because Facebook was a good app, and people actually wanted
some atrocity that was kind of like Tumblr/Flickr/Twitter/LJ/toilet-
graffiti/emotionally-abusive-Gameboy except worse. That's manifestly not the case. People want everyone they know in one place, and the only way to give them that is to be evil. Which makes it impossible to replace Facebook with any less-evil alternative -- whatever eventually kills Facebook will win by being either MORE evil, or more SOPHISTICATEDLY evil. And since Diaspora was unable to compete with Facebook, it found itself competing with all the non-Facebook focussed-purpose services like Twitter and Flickr and DW and Tumblr, and it since it was built to be worse than all of them, you probably still aren't using it. Of course, you're probably not using Dreamwidth, either. You probably ARE using Twitter, and I'll be interested to hear app.net's plan for dealing with the fact that 80% of Twitter joined Twitter because all their friends were on Twitter.
Yes, this is depressing and annoying. Whatever, let me have my moment of explanatory triumph.