Retrospect rhythm / Release remembered romance / Revering rapport
Retrospect rhythm / Release remembered romance / Revering rapport
I have a decent-length history with cellphones. I’m old enough that when I was a teenager, teenagers having cellphones was not common yet did occur. I was also not one of them. I’m old enough that, when I finally did get a cell phone after graduating high school, the phone did not have a camera in it. It was a Samsung phone. It was silver. That phone was horrible, but it did what it was supposed to do. I never texted with it.
After a while I upgraded to another dumbphone. Another Samsung. This one was red, but with a big black stripe down the middle. It was probably the first phone I liked. It had a camera. 1 megapixel or something. It was centered in the hinge and could rotate to face away or towards the holder. It was technically able to play MP3s, but it had one of those tiny headphone jacks so I couldn’t use real headphones. It kinda sucked. It had buttons on the front though and you could kinda listen if you played it over speaker and put it to your ear. One time I used it to play a song for my then-girlfriend. She didn’t really enjoy the song, nor the tinny-sounding speaker it was coming through, so we turned it off.
Somewhere around the time my contract was up on that phone, Android was coming out. And by Android, I mean the G1. The first Android phone. I’d been following along and frankly I loved the ideas Android proposed. True cloud-based sync. Unified data notification. Extensibility in virtually every area (apps, carriers, hardware design). I decided I wanted to be in from the beginning. I left Verizon and my cheap Samsung dumbphone and got the G1 on T-Mobile. Handset upgrade, network downgrade. I was taken aback with how much I could do with the G1, in the same way that someone who’s never had candy before is taken aback by candy corn. I suppose, technically, yes, it’s much better than what I’d previously had, but that didn’t change the fact that it wasn’t as great as it could be. Also, fact: candy corn is more disgusting than calamari deep-fried in goat’s blood.
I suppose I can say I loved my G1. I mean, I did. I was sad to see it go. I even tried to make sure someone would keep using it, which is more than I could say for my old dumbphones. But I never felt coequal with my G1. I loved it like a victim of domestic abuse. I would shower praise on it, and it would repay the favor by lagging when I tried to show it off to one of my iPhone-owning friends. I would lovingly download apps, and it would get slower and slower, even forcing me to uninstall some of them because it had such a low storage capacity. I loved it because I chose to, despite the crap it gave me.
Then, this year, I got my Evo. If the G1 abused me, the Evo showered me with love. I do still have to treat it well, though that’s to be expected. After my initial install rush of 100+ apps, there was an at least slightly noticeable lag. But my Evo still shows me love. It let’s me take up as much of that oh-so-comfortable 4.3” screen with my fingers as I desire. It lets me fiddle with the kickstand without ever breaking. It never ceases to have some new app available. Oh, and it’s always so diligent to stay on top of the most current releases. When I was hoping for Froyo, it was the first phone, besides the Nexus One to get any. And my Evo shared it all with me.
I rely on my Evo every day for texts, calls, chats. I blog with it. I read news with it. I read books with it. Facebook. YouTube. All of my music, both my subscription to ThumbPlay and my local music in doubleTwist, it manages all of it. I cover my homescreens with widgets, some I don’t even need, and it never slows down or gets tired.
I suppose occasionally, it does need a rest. It regularly asks me for a battery recharge in the middle of the day. But you know what? I don’t expect a Hummer to get good gas mileage. And for all that this phone does for me, it’s the least I can do to give it a USB charging cable to use while I’m at work. No biggie, Evo. You take what you need.
In fact, I’ll even give you your own little dock in my car. You’re always playing my music for me, so why not have your own special place while we go driving. What’s that? You’ll go ahead and give me directions with Google Navigation while you’re up here? *sigh* Evo. You are just too good to me.
Diaspora, champion of open source and privacy, is set to finally lay down the alpha release of their new social networking software soon. And rumor has it Diaspora looks pretty familiar. Unfortunately, as cool as the idea sounds (your data will stay private! Peer-to-peer something or other!), it may be coming too little too late.
It almost became the mantra of social-networking sites: “Another one will come along before too long.” From LiveJournal to Xanga to MySpace…they all did pretty much the same thing. Yet Facebook now has over 500 million users. 1 in every 14 people on the planet uses Facebook. One. in. Fourteen. For comparison, that is almost 200 million more than the entire U.S. population. It’s more than half of the entire population of Europe. And it’s only growing. Facebook is on the web, it’s on smartphones. You can update your status, get messages, and poke people from anywhere you can send a text message.
And it’s not stopping.
So, what separates Facebook from all of the others? What is it, exactly, that makes Facebook so prevalent? How has Facebook somehow managed to outlast all of the other social networking sites?
There is no denying, Facebook looks nice. We all hate it when Facebook revamps the website (and then does so again, and then again, oh and hey look, another time a few months later), but ultimately, Facebook has never strayed from their themes of easy-on-the-eyes blues over a pure white background. Facebook never allowed users to theme their site. If you ever saw MySpace, you can appreciate this. Heck, even Twitter, which really only lets you use a custom background image, can look pretty terrible with the wrong image. MySpace, with the ability to edit the look of almost anything, resulted in profiles trashier than a run-down Georgian trailer park. Usability takes a hit when users can’t find the friggin’ “Send this user a message” button.
I’m not generally one for the “the user shouldn’t be able to customize things” approach, but this is one where Facebook was right. My desktop is mine and I’m the only one that needs to use it. A public profile, however, may be a nice place to express yourself, but everyone else has to use it too.
Exclusivity (At Least At First)
It’s the classic reverse psychology. Tell someone they can’t have something and that just makes them want it all the more. Everything from clubs to expensive cars/houses to the beautiful girl that’s out of your league. Originally Facebook was only available to students at Harvard. This had the benefit of being both exclusive, and only available to some of the most well-connected students in the country. They then expanded to other Ivy League colleges. Then they opened it up to high schoolers. Then to everyone. This progression shouldn’t be missed, because it was that very strategy that made Facebook more powerful than MySpace or LiveJournal ever could’ve been.
Every site has an identity. That identity is determined partly by the site itself and partly by the users. Facebook began by capitalizing on the group most likely to adapt something new and cool: students. Young people. Like hipster fashions and STDs, cool sites get passed around more frequently and more widely by young people than the older generations.
That gets you your foundation.
In software, ubiquity is king. Just ask Microsoft. It is so easy to duplicate, reinstall, or convert software, platforms, and sites in the digital age that the only way to survive, the only way to stay relevant, is to be everywhere. Who remembers geocities? Or Alta Vista. I used to use a search engine called HotBot. Remember them? Of course not. Because HotBot never achieved ubiquity. Conversely, Google did. And now Google is the search engine. Even Microsoft, which is worth hundreds of billions more than Google, can only put a dent in Google’s marketshare with Bing despite a massive ad campaign push. Microsoft, as the maker of Windows, of course knows best that once a piece of software becomes ubiquitous, it’s almost impossible to lose that advantage.
Facebook, during its growth, knew this. They expanded carefully, intentionally, and at all the right moments. You can’t expand without a good product, and that’s important to note. For all Facebook’s flaws, it’s good at what it does. But the real power of Facebook is that Zuckerberg and his team knew exactly when to expand to what markets. Had they opened up to all users initially, or even skipped straight from college-only to a free-for-all, they would’ve lost. But they didn’t. Which leads to the next point:
As stated previously, Facebook now has over 500 million active users. For comparison, MySpace has maybe 130 million. If you meet someone new, there’s a very good chance they have a Facebook profile. And that is the real power of Facebook. The usefulness of a social networking site is determined almost solely by how many other people use it. I still have Google Buzz. I know three or four other people who use it. I could use Google Buzz to share something with these three to four people. If I wanted to share it with anyone else, it goes to Facebook. That’s what keeps us coming back.
Facebook has achieved a position of luxury. They have cash on hand. They have a critical mass of users that is ubiquitous enough. Not every single person has one, but especially in developed countries, non-Facebook users are beginning to become a minority. Facebook can now determine where social networking goes. As an example, they’re focusing a lot on Places. Making social networking location-aware. Or the rumored Facebook email service. Any other company looking to start an email service would be forced to generate users from scratch. Facebook could conceivably get more active Facebook mail users than Gmail in a single day simply by adding a banner above the Newsfeed. Facebook now competes with other companies that are leagues above them. Microsoft’s Hotmail which, despite all reason and sense of taste, is the number one online email service by userbase. And there are fewer Hotmail users than Facebook users. Facebook could put a serious dent in that userbase.
Facebook isn’t all-powerful. No tech company is. But this kind of advantage that comes from ubiquity is the kind that puts start-ups like Diaspora in a seriously unfavorable position. If MySpace, LiveJournal and all the other social networking sites that have been in the business for years are having trouble competing, then a start up like Diaspora is going to have an intense road ahead.
It’s not impossible. But no one should expect this David to slay Facebook’s Goliath overnight. Or even over the next few years. For the forseeable future, Facebook will be synonymous with social networking the way that Windows is synonymous with desktop/laptop computing.
“dear oc: I’m now half done with a 3 week late paper. It feels like an accomplishment. Do I continue working, or relax?”
The fact that you are three weeks overdue on…
I am not interested in Bigfoot. I’ve seen alleged photos of what it’s supposed to look like but, as near as I can tell, Bigfoot looks almost identical to other members of its related family. I can’t be the only one to have noticed the similarities. And yet, Bigfoot is one of those legendary creatures right up there with the unicorn and the Loch Ness monster. Why? Scarcity.
Have you ever seen Bigfoot? No. Have you ever even been near Bigfoot? Nope. If you told someone you had seen Bigfoot, would you make the news? You bet you would. Would they care if you were telling the truth? Some would. Others, probably not. Either way, someone would want to hear your story. And if you had photos of Bigfoot, regardless of whether they come from questionable origins, they’d be plastered all over every major news outlet. At last, the mystery revealed! Here it is!
There’s a lot of folks that want Bigfoot. Bigfoot is in high demand, regardless of whether that demand will ever be satisfied. And the truth is, it might not. We keep hoping that we’ll see Bigfoot next week, next month, maybe next year, but if we’re really honest, we may never see it. Or worse. When we do, Bigfoot may be DOA. Bigfoot only has a limited lifespan. By the time we finally see Bigfoot, it may already be too late.
[Now go back and replace every instance of ‘Bigfoot’ with ‘the white iPhone 4’.]
This is the new, color Nook. And this woman? She is terrified of it. Look at her. She is taken aback by the mind-boggling vastness of it’s potential. She is positively floored. Or about to be.
Do you understand? Do you get just how unbelievable this new Nook is? I DON’T THINK YOU DO.
It’s magnificent. Unbelievable. Positively flabbergasting. Mesmerizingly ostentatious.
[Originally published on Autistic Disdain]
Starting a new relationship can be tough. It takes time to develop trust. Generally it requires a series of risks, placing a little more of yourself in another person’s hands to prove they’re worthy…
He’s been caught.
One reader writes:
“I have a lot of students who are failing…I can’t really do much if they turn stuff in blank and don’t ask questions…so, not sure what i’m going to do. The stuff they aren’t…