Did You Guys Hear? Facebook Moved Around Some Pixels

I do not know who David Dalka is. But he is a man who is mighty peeved at Facebook, and indeed, the internet at large, for moving around pixels! In general, I find TechCrunch to have the second-most inflammatory, inane, hogwash writing, worthy of the unsavory glare of my autistic disdain. This piece, on internet updates, is simply unprecedented in the gloriousness of it’s crap. A thorough review, if you please:

The piece begins with a reminder that not so long ago, the internet was outraged-furious I daresay!-when Facebook introduced a slightly smaller default font-size. I remember where I was that day. The day the internet turned red with anger, and the wrath of the internet community was felt such that it had not been felt since 4chan committed its first DDoS. The death toll was in the hundreds of thousands.

But what our dear friend Mr. Dalka has courageously pointed out is that this font size change was not merely made to instill bloodlust in every living soul to ever walk the earth. No, the objective is something much more sinister and evil: ads.

Yes. Ads. You know them, right? They’re those things that allow the internet to run for free? And, while yes, some sites are rather intrusive with them (the Yahoo! home page, anything from a major cable network, Gizmodo), most major sites prefer to have at least a little class with them. Until recently, Facebook was one of those classy individuals that opted for small, text-based ads with a small image, practically a  thumbnail, above them.

Here’s the insidious part of the plan: Facebook used a smaller font size to get users used to a small middle column so they could place small, text-based ads with a small image, practically a thumbnail next to them!

That’s right, dear readers. Facebook’s ads have now gotten slightly wider, and slightly shorter! If you are not already heading towards your gun cabinet, you may turn in your Internet Citizen card this moment. Mr. Dalka sums up the situation far better than I ever could have:

Do they actually disrespect your personal space that much? Is this how little (pun totally intended) Facebook thinks of you, their userbase? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes.

Now, while many of you may be ready to leave a nasty, profanity-filled comment on Mr. Dalka’s article solely for that pun (and you’d be well within your rights), I want you to look past it and see his larger point:

This conversation is about much, much more than Facebook….Only you have the power to end this cycle of abuse by social networks and it is time for the web community to stand up and shout that they are sick and tired of constant terms of service changes, privacy changes, steps backward in usability that degrade our mutual experience, comfort level with the sites we use and our enjoyment of the web.

This is the core of his argument. As you are well aware, it is in the Internet Citizen’s bill of rights to constantly enjoy every single site you ever use. It is also expected that every site be made perfect before release. Features may not be added, nor accommodated for. And perhaps most importantly, your personal preferences should always dictate the design of a site viewed by 500 million users. You can see a prime example of this last right demonstrated by Dalka here:

Amazingly, the new ad sizes have been mentioned favorably in certain circles.

Do you see what he did there? There is someone on the internet who sees how adding a couple more, mildly intrusive ads, while still managing to maintain almost exactly the same user experience, can be a good thing both for users and for Facebook. Facebook, in case you forgot, is that company that’s providing an always-on service to 500 million active users completely free of charge. However, none of that matters. Mr. Dalka has invoked the IC’s Bill of Rights to establish that none other than his own opinion is right. Not much more we can do from here.

The pinnacle of this righteous fight came here:

The same is true of social networking sites. This is typically not seen as a problem by individuals. It also goes unnoticed by most traditional brand marketers as they are used to expiring, non-measurable media in the pre-Internet era of marketing and often not held accountable by senior management. Once fully understood by senior business executives, the microeconomics of marketing channels has emerging implications for enterprise business strategy, marketing budget resource allocation and eventual redefinition of the skill sets required to lead businesses into the future successfully.

…….I need to be honest. I-…I have no idea what the hell any of that means. Frankly, I don’t have the mind for translating corporate bullshit into lay speak. But it seems that the jist of what he’s saying is that startup internet companies need to be required to have a clear idea of how they’re going to make money before folks invest in them. So that….folks like Dalka don’t have to ever have changes on their websites? Hell if I know. You know how in the new Indiana Jones movie, there’s that one crazy old guy and while, yeah, he’s probably brilliant, no one really understands anything he’s saying? No? You didn’t watch the fourth Indy? Ah, well. You’re not missing much.

In any case, Mr. Dalka? You’re a moron. Sites change. For that matter, so do mobile apps, desktop apps, heck, pretty much any piece of software changes. You learn, you adapt. You grow with the tech. That’s the way it’s worked since the first PC, that’s the way it’s going to continue to work. And no. Startups can’t know exactly what they’re doing before they decide how to monetize things. The internet is growing and changing at such a rapid pace, even the “visionaries” who are paving the way have no idea what they’re doing. And that’s how tech works.

In the immortal words of Jessi Eisenberg: “We don’t know what it can be, we don’t know what it will be. We know that it is cool.” Such is the way of the internet.

Get used to it.


Posted on December 20, 2010, in Internet and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. just one thing: Facebook isn’t providing a service to that 500 million users. The users are the product being sold as a service to advertisers. Same as Google.

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