October 09, 2007

Facebook - Child's Play?

Kara Swisher has a great post on the immature nature of Facebook apps. See, here's the thing: immature and silly is really fun at first because it's fun-ny at first. But once you've filled a few fake fish tanks, posted to a few groups, planted a few pretend gardens, and caught a few hot potatoes, you start wondering if you might be spending that time billing or planting real gardens with your kids.

Kara says she's done burning brainpower on whether or not to catch spuds:

Right now on Facebook, I have been trying to decide what to do near on two weeks or more, after receiving a “Hot Potato” tossed to me by my old boss, Washington Post Co. CEO and Chairman Don Graham (oh, yes–his family also owns a key hunk of the legendary paper, too).

For those who don’t know what a digital Hot Potato is: It is a widget (also called a third-party app) created by a very nice-looking group of guys at a design outfit called Hungry Machine for the Facebook platform.

She says she gets it. I think she does get it. I get it too. You get it, right?

I'm all for stupid things. Hell I sometimes AM the stupid thing. I can even manage some guilty giggles for an imaginative group name even when people around the world are dying. But there is something toddleresque about these kewl apps that feel very much like a child who does something cute, thereby eliciting uproarious laughter from his relatives, so then he keeps doing it until you're so sick of him that you want to toss him like a hot potato.

Kara asks: "...if that is all there is, can Facebook really build a viable and long-lasting business on what is essentially a bunch of games that will ultimately become wearying for users? Doesn’t it need more robust apps that actually are useful and relevant and make Facebook the service that Zuckerberg has often told me was a 'utility'?"

I believe with all my heart that play is the killer app of the Internet. So I'm all about the proliferation of just-for-fun widgets on Facebook. But I am also expecting more. I'm expecting to be able to accomplish as much on Facebook as I can on the net as a whole. I expect to be able to share and collaborate and engage and generate STUFF. Because the most productive form of playing is making stuff.

But a gazillion people can't be wrong - and Facebook is definitely the "in" social network. As much as I try to forget about Facebook and spend more time being productive, I do get pulled back in a few times a week.

After all, I have fish to send, Scobles to feed, and a garden to tend to.