Friday, August 7, 2009

Facebook's Hidden Bug

Facebook allows me to gather friends ad infinitum. Currently, I have 279.

As I add friends, I offer up chunks of Facebook real estate for their posts, thoughts, comments, etc. But keeping up with 279 friends causes me to spend a lot of time reading these little nuggets of personality.

So I limit my interaction, as I've noticed that I tend to get sucked in. Some of my friends notice the same tendency. I know this because I read their comments. Just not all of them.

The bottom line is this: I am a user of Facebook whose sole purpose is to visit the site briefly to find out what people of varying importance to me are saying.

That is the User. The problem here is that everyone has something to say, but there is only one method of consuming that information: reading. Reading takes time and reading takes space. While having to read is not the problem - I'm not that lazy - the volume of items to read has become insufferable. As more and more people post their little gems with great rapidity (e.g., Twitter), my home page becomes a teenage-ADD-brain dump of middle-age technical professionals, musicians, and old high school chums; most of whom are being rudely run off the page by Twitter-bullies.

I think Facebook should provide an option where users are provided posts grouped within a certain time frame. Only the latest entry by a friend is shown with an option to see more. Think of something like a tree view where the root is "Posts within the last 8 hours." The child nodes would be unique friend avatars with the most recent item and a count of how many posts they have made within that time frame. Collapsed under that would be children nodes with the actual posts, comments being children of THAT node. Something like this:

"Posts within the last 8 hours"
--->Bill Clinton "Taking a nap!" (3)
------>"Taking a nap!"
------>"Eating a ham sandwich."
--------->Al Gore
--------->Hillary Clinton
------------>"What's new with that?"
------>"Rescuing reporters."
--->George W. Bush "Poking Cattle" (2)
------>"Poking Cattle"
------>"Tipping Cattle"

In addition, I should be able to specify classes of friends. Friends from high school, friends from work, good friends, acquaintances, friends I have accepted because I didn't want to be rude but really can't remember them at all.

I should be able to rank these classes such that the higher the rank, the higher up on the page. Yes, older posts may appear before newer ones, but that's okay with me because I know that it is time boxed to my requested window.

Currently, Facebook just blithely assumes I want to read it all at once and treats the posts with a flat hierarchy, which is really nothing more than LIFO. I would love to have an option like this.

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