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May 10th, 2010

I think Facebook is kind of like Microsoft Word. When it started, it was really cool, and really useful. Lots of people really liked it and became enthusiastic fans.

With each revision, the people in charge of Microsoft Word added new features. Some new features people liked, some they hated, but in generally many of the new features were useful and made it a better program.

Eventually, diminishing returns were reached. At this point, Word pretty much did everything people wanted in a word processing application, but the pressure was there to keep making it “better” and adding more stuff.

Feature creep became a serious problem. New revisions started piling on useless “features” that people would never use, becoming more and more confusing. Even worse, old features people relied on were changed for the sake of change.

Eventually, Word became the bloated application it is today. Of course, most people still use Word, because it is the de facto standard; however, there aren’t too many people who find Word to be a pleasure to use, like in the old days.

I think Facebook is going down the same path. Each new “revision” makes Facebook less and less useful and fun to use. Furthermore, the continuous changes in how popular, well-liked features work make the entire site harder to use. Many of Facebook’s most recent changes seem to fall into the “change for the sake of change” category. Some of the changes actually take away existing functionality, and have semi-intentionally made the essential privacy settings a confusing mess.

I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about “figuring stuff out” on computers and the internet, and I think I’ve managed to get my privacy settings at a level I am conformable with. However, it took me several hours of testing to get to this point, and even now I still cannot figure out how to enable what should be simple things like getting Facebook to display to my friends the fact that I graduated from the University of Kansas.

I am not going to “quit” Facebook. Like Word, in spite of the cruft and crap, enough of the underlying functionality (casual communication with old and new friends) remains instant that I still find the site useful. But I remain disappointed that Facebook is worse now then it used to be, and likely will continue to get worse in the future.

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  1. May 13th, 2010 at 19:42 | #1

    wow…I totally agree. I enjoyed the recent privacy changes, the ability to adjust WHO could see my status updates and published stories…but I too am starting to get overwhelmed by the settings and features. I still don’t totally understand the Like over Fans and outside websites Like. When I am completely lost on privacy, I will have no choice but to default to DELETE.

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