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Thread: Format Wars, Standards & Competition

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Another victory such as this and surely all is lost -- King Pyrrhus of Epirus.

Facebook, Google And Friends


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Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 23:10:01 +1000

One of the discourses occupying recent blog chatter has been about Facebook buying FriendFeed, and the implications. What exactly will this do for Facebook users? And was something like FriendFeed on their wish list anyway?

Occasionally your humble blogger receives email with offers to view such-and-such a page on Facebook. In most cases, unless the page had been made public, it is not possible to view it without a Facebook account ... And if this the case, your blogger humbly declines the invitation.

In your blogger's not-so humble opinion, the requirement to have a Facebook account before being allowed to see other (non-public) Facebook accounts is questionable. Especially considering that the default settings on individual accounts seem to have poor security. And it is often possible to find the information that Facebook insists you must have an account to view ... Many Facebook users don't fully understand the account settings and the sharing of data. And your humble blogger suspects that quite a few of them may have signed up just because someone sent them an email about a link on Facebook.

This is a legitimate way to expand one's user base ... However, is it entirely ethical? Because Facebook can collect a considerable amount of personal information, and because there is now a significant user base, there is no reason for Facebook to make such settings the default. Some of it begins to look suspiciously like a form of viral marketing.

And, can Facebook be trusted with all those personal details?

And just how secure is all that juicy data?

Of course, other things Facebook users, and potential Facebook users should consider are the alternatives. For example, Google's iGoogle desktop offers an amazing package with Gmail, storage for photos (Picasa), your own personal blog (Blogspot), online documents (Google Docs), etc., etc. And all of it configurable.

Google's offerings require a bit more work on settings and configuration. But there is no restrictions regarding sharing (or protection) of information.

To date, Google's remarkable package does not seem to have been as big a marketing success as Facebook.

And in your blogger's humble opinion, that's because Google have concentrated on quality and Facebook seem to have concentrated on quantity.

The problem for Facebook seems to be finding a solid revenue stream. Perhaps they should cut a deal with Microsoft? ... Your humble blogger understands that Microsoft currently offer almost 90% of all revenue gained from advertising!

Although Facebook may not be that suicidal, it must be worrying for them that Google can so easily afford to give away all those services, just to improve the Internet, and encourage more users to get online, and use Google.

And if FriendFeed really does help Facebook become a successful portal, with billions of bums on her seat ... How confident can all those billions of users be that Facebook will respect them in the morning? Of course, we could put the shoe on the other foot and ask how confident can Facebook be that all those billions of users will respect her in the morning?

Because, another problem with portals is the vicissitudes of the market. It seems that public sentiment about portals can change rapidly. One year it's AOL, then it's Yahoo, then it's MySpace, then it's Facebook, etc.

Your humble blogger noticed something similar back in the days of his mis-spent youth. Entertainment venues, pubs, watering-holes, or whatever you want to call them might become immensely popular almost over-night. The local would be packed to the rafters with happy drinkers and punters ... A trendy, hip band might be playing in the corner. And then a few months later, the crowd will have moved on the next venue, and only a few regulars would remain, propping up the bar.


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