Alex Payne is a writer based in Portland, Oregon.

since 2001, has served as his online home.

A Dim Beacon

People are shocked - shocked! - that Facebook is engaging in aggressive, creepy advertising. The complaints around the web community surprised me, honestly. I thought it was clear what we were all getting into with Facebook.

Here’s how it seems to me: Facebook doesn’t exist to be good in the sense that Google wants (wanted?) to be. They don’t exist to connect you with your friends, or to build things that help people, or generally to provide social utility as their primary goal. Your network of friends and the data you share amongst them happens to be a nutrient-rich bath in which advertisements can flourish and spawn. When Facebook said they were opening the social graph, they didn’t mean “open” like Open Source, they meant “open for business”.

I have a deep respect for the technologists at Facebook. They’ve done an amazing job delivering a fast, usable site that handles a staggering amount of traffic. Facebook is a superbly-executed marketplace for selling you. That’s been clear since the launch of their platform, and to “talk about what ”serves the user’s interest“”: is to have a discussion about something that is decidedly not Facebook.

Facebook is going to blow over just like every walled-garden media property has since the dawn of the consumer internet. Until then, Facebook makes working on the web - and being on the web - less fun. Their pitch-perfect execution excises the utopian glee from the process of building social technology, replacing it with a dull, efficient, compromising uniformity.

Sadly, it seems that the web community is going to spend at least the next six months talking about Facebook, OpenSocial (Google’s weary response), and all the other implications of the monetization of the social graph. There’s enough money to be made that the conversation is justified. I just want to talk about something else.

Minimalism in Code

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