Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh Mama, could this really be the end?

An essay on the blog Download Squad with the alarming title Facebook -- with or without Google -- will destroy the world as we know it explains the two companies' diverging strategies. It's interesting (though I can't get very worked up about yet another apocalyptic scenario, in which something from the movie Terminator is used to get across how frightening it is), but what I was struck by was this line (emphasis theirs):
In other words, Facebook knows who we want to be, while Google knows who we actually are.
How Dylanesque!

The article closes with this warning, which I find pretty believable. Referring to Facebook's announcement yesterday that it was going to offer the equivalent of Facebook email, the article cautions:
You will be given the choice of opting out, of course. But think about it: can you see yourself leaving Facebook today? Now fast forward a few months, a year. Imagine what it will be like once all of your communication goes through Facebook; quitting won't be an option.
Now, the thing is, I use Google mail, I collaborate with others using Google documents, I have Google voice pointing to my cell phone, I use the calendar, and so on. It seems as if I'm pretty wrapped up in Google. And yet I think if Google disappeared tomorrow, all I'd lose is my saved email and this month's household budget. My life would go on, for the simple reason that Google's mail system communicates with the rest of the world, while Facebook's is designed not to. A "walled garden" is the term commonly used for such an exclusive online universe. I can think of another word.

I'm glad I'm not a Facebook denizen; I never registered. It's like having gone through the 00s without having gotten a tattoo: once you participate a little, you're marked for life.

No comments: