“Nobody can be anybody without somebody being around.”
John Wheeler

The Element

The Pied Pipers of Facebook?


Of all the recent Facebook related media turmoil, one article on TechCrunch shimmered to me. I don’t know if it’s true or valid but in reading it I wondered about the potential effect of technological early-adapters in society. The TechCrunch article suggests that many Google-Geek-Engineers are leaving facebook due to privacy concerns that have arisen with Facebooks latest anouncements.

Disclosure: I don’t use Facebook, I tried it twice and left it behind. Whenever I reach a Facebook login page I walk away. I consider Facebook to be a very low quality form of social interaction and I strongly urge people I care about to refrain from using it. I consider people who criticize Facebook while still using it to be hypocrites.

Early adopters are passionate about new technologies, they are willing to spend time and effort to puruse their sense of curiosity. I wonder if inadvertently they are also a doorway into wider social acceptance? Tech companies seek early adopters to test the waters with new products and services. Assuming of course, that when early adopters sign-off on a service they will become points of origin for a natural process of viral distribution. So in a way (and I assuming there are other factors involved in the process)  early adopters lead their social circles into technological environments.

With Facebook I believe that early adopters were Pied Pipers, playing a nice melody but leading their followers into a dangerous place. Now the dangers are more apparent – but not to everyone. Technologists can envision the implications of Facebook’s anouncements on privacy, but most of the 400 millions Facebook users are not technologists – and they have no idea what the issue is. So a few technologists may walk away form Facebook, but most of the people will stay in the hands of a company that will stop at nothing (including legal prosection if it is deemed worthwhile) to infringe on their privacy and freedom to make a profit.
Do early adapters inadvertently play such a role in society in our technologicaly dominated era? Do their inherent curiosities and talents represent a dynamic evolutionry force? Do they know this? Should they?

End note: as I was searching for a “Pied Piper” image I came across something inspiring – it is a symbolic finding considering the context that brought me to it 🙂

This entry was posted in AltEco, outside, Tech Stuff. You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours


  1. Posted April 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    "I consider people who criticize Facebook while still using it to be hypocrites"
    I fall into the "hypocrite category", I find criticizing the failings of utilities I use to crystallize their finer points and do not always fall on deaf ears. Nearly all utilities I use have pain points, and I verbalize my frustrations.

    For better or worse many of my friends are reachable through Facebook and which is the dominant social web network. That connectivity has value, even if the information of one's social network isn't portable (it will be someday).

    Don't forget that Facebook could fall to government regulation, or folks can opt out even more rapidly than MySpace's decline if they make the wrong decisions. The critical point for people leaving a network is like a landslide once a more promising alternative arises.

    • Posted April 26, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      It's tempting to generalize – but I don't really want to. I will stick to Facebook.

      Privacy is just what has surfaced now. The intents of the "Facebook Business Entity" are so out of alignment with the "Facebook Social Entity" that it simply cannot turn out good.

      Even if/when there is a landslide – I have a feeling that the techies (like you) will float on top and the masses will get trampled (lose control over private information or lose that information all together).

      If government regulation is your only hope… then leave, leave now.

      Bottom line there are no excuses. Everything that is needed to create an alternative is already out there. What's missing is the glue… and again, for lack of a better name, I am calling it design. More in that in a private email heading your way soon in relation to the post you published today 🙂

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