Have had arguments, sometimes unpleasant, with older hipster friends about Facebook. Whereas no one aged 15-25 can be blamed that this sticky social network is their whole world, oldsters moved into the gated community by conscious choice.
How could anyone who had experienced the liberation of the open web from "old media" models circa 2001-2006 get behind this development?
"Lots of people are on it now." (Lots of people also smoked.)
"Artists have to understand every part of their world, not just the parts they like." (I'd say your participation goes beyond simple understanding.)
"Hey if they can make it scale, more power to them." (The internet was already on a huge scale without needing a single network to stay up with it.)
"You can't just stop the clock, get with it." (When all your other arguments are shabby, resort to insult.)
A recent Vanity Fair article isn't concerned with any of the above, it just wants to know, will Facebook make money? The magazine absolves itself of ethical or even critical duties and passes along as objective fact the company's best predictions for itself:
The Facebook of old-—well, of a year ago-—is almost irrelevant to the company that exists today, which not only is set to change the world of social networking, but could herald the biggest transformation in American advertising since the advent of television.
That is my conclusion from months of interviews with Facebook ad clients, investors, the company’s senior management and other key executives, as well as reviews of reams of data, including confidential reports. What emerges is a portrait of a widely misunderstood company that has quietly been pioneering a marketing business model unlike any other in Silicon Valley—or, for that matter, Madison Avenue.
The premise is, as long as we can keep 'em hooked we can bleed 'em with ads coming from every direction. Sound fun? For my old cyber-hippie friends, the following quote settles whether Facebook bears any resemblance to the Net we knew and loved:
“A lot of people looked at Facebook and saw a Web site,” [early Facebook investor Marc] Andreessen remembers. “None of the people close to Mark and the company thought of Facebook as a Web site. They think of it as a data set, a feedback loop.”
If people get bored or sick of it and leave the loop, the company is screwed. Yet is twitter any better, as a place to flee? It's great to read, say, Mark Ames outside his NSFW Corporation paywall but his political observations seem thin and foolish plopped next to that Gatorade Ad in your timeline. At least when you were reading The Nation circa 1992 the ads were over in the margins and they were about saving whales, not selling disgusting sugar drinks. With Pepsico's product placements right there in your line of sight, you can't help but be reminded that controversy is delivering you into the needy hands of advertisers -- it's not just faving and liking. We all develop filters to ignore this stuff but the question is, do we have to?