Friday, March 4, 2011

Time Wasters - Facebook

Having evaluated the time wasting potential of Groupon and Twitter, I'm now looking at Facebook.

First off, I don't believe Facebook is a total waste of time. It's a valuable social tool that the majority have embraced in some form. It's availability on (and integration with) mobile devices is excellent (thus increasing it's addictiveness).

For the current generation it threatens to replace personal emails. People no longer have the hassle of having to keep an address book up to date. Users need no sit there blankly, seeking inspiration of what to type. It's all infront of you! Recent activities (in status updates and photos), tastes, opinions and interaction with others.

I've largely tamed my facebook account making visits a short, sweet experience.
Here is what I've done to achieve this.
I'm not going to list how, as a) those instructions would quickly become obselete and b) you can use your favourite search engine.

Making facebook managable is about reducing the amount of 'noise' in your updates, i.e,

Turn off email notifications of facebook events.
You'll see them when you log in anyway.

Block applications when you first see them.
Bob is playing Farmville will become a thing of the past.

Review the interests you have listed
Bands and television programs are the typical examples. Whilst these have revealed some surprising matches amongst my friends, they are mostly used to market to you.

Review the pages you have 'liked'.
That actress might have been hot in a series 2 years ago, but she has faded into obscurity now and updates on her activity are actually not interesting. Actually, having her in your 'likes' is most likely saying 'I'm a perv who likes this superhero chick in pvc'.

The same advice re; facebook 'likes' applies for products you once used (or entered a competition via). It's all marketing and has low informational value.

People
This is down to personal choice, but if someone is not important to you ask yourself what they are doing on your facebook!
If their updates are too frequent, uninteresting or blatantly rude, you have a couple of options -
  1. Unfriend them (sometimes en masse via a friend cull)
  2. Hide their updates via preferences.
The first is quite severe and will be quickly noticed as you disapear from their facebook. It also sends out quite a strong message without explanation.

Hiding updates is not difficult (and is less political). Those who bleat about having no money, their drunken antics or constantly post videos of their flea ridden mutt will disapear from your updates. You can still chose to check their profiles if you wish, or reverse the setting should you have a change of heart.

RSS private feeds can be used to see activity in your Facebook account. The feeds contain only status updates (i.e. text information) which limits their use. Surely the photos are the most entertaining part of the Facebook experience?  For me, RSS with Facebook is useful to gauge when it is worth 'logging in'.

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