Why I committed Facebook suicide.

So I pulled the plug on Facebook earlier today, which might seem a rather random action to those who follow me here and on Twitter. I gave no warning, I just went ahead and did it. Part of me feels a bit sad, and I’ll miss the ability to keep in touch with particular friends and family in the way that Facebook enabled. There are some things I won’t miss, as I’ll briefly explain.

Ownership of my information

So far as I can tell, WordPress currently only displays information about me that I choose to be there, when I choose for it to be there. I can delete and edit anything I like, when I like. I can move away from it to another site or system how and when I choose.

Twitter is perhaps a less-known quantity, even if it is currently my primary online social-networking tool. I can seek information when I choose, and it only displays on my profile what I choose to be there. Sure, people can mention me and I’ll appear on timelines in a different light than I might like. But in general I feel much more in control of the content I put there, and feel more able to trust what happens to that information.

Facebook has turned on many sharing features recently that have “leaked” things like contact information and relationships over the last few years, and each time has required me to jump through hoops to turn information feeds off to those to whom I’d rather remain just another face in the crowd. The news in recent days of facial recognition functionality being switched on without notice on the site itself was the final nail in the coffin. Yes, it’s only suggesting to people I know that I might be a person in their photo, but I’d rather have that functionality built into a computer operating system or web browser, based on information I’ve fed it, rather than have it as part of a bigger machine that can only make the functionality invisible to me.

On a more emotive level, there’s something more than a little creepy about a business that makes its money sharing and advertising to those who live their lives within reach of it.

Time is valuable

Various factors have come together recently that have conspired to help me learn to organise and use my time more effectively. Facebook was a time-sink for me, yet in the bigger scheme of things didn’t offer anything valuable in return.

Twitter has been a valuable resource for looking up realtime information about things happening around me, and has helped me engage with the local community in quite unexpected ways, especially when used in combination with blogs like this one.

WordPress has enabled some interesting conversations and interactions, and it seems that some posts have been informative to others facing similar situations to those I’ve described. I don’t claim to be a fount of all, or any knowledge – but my mistakes and lessons learned can help others in a way that status updates on Facebook just don’t hit.

Add to this that the Facebook interface had become generally feature-bloated and unreliable, especially on my phone, while things like email, blogs and Twitter carry on with their given functions with much greater efficiency and more tangible results.

Relationships are valuable

If I’m really set on keeping in touch with friends and family, then shouldn’t I be writing letters, picking up the phone, sending emails, sending photos or even arranging meets? Facebook is useful for all of these things in its way, but I don’t want such communications being owned by any company or entity other than myself and those I’m communicating with. When I send a letter, it doesn’t become the property of Royal Mail. They don’t sell copies of all or parts of the letters to advertisers. They don’t tell Amazon that they recently delivered an box of fluff to my door, so that Amazon can try to sell me books about that fluff.

And yes, it’s nice to be able to feel smug or angry about something and to share that with a select group of individuals, as I did so willingly on Facebook and will likely continue to do on Twitter. But I feel my relationships have suffered because Facebook was becoming the fount of knowledge about what I and those around me were getting up to, and I was willingly letting it stifle the very reason for those friendships and relationships to exist in the first place.

No, my personal relationships probably won’t get any better as a result of today’s decision, but at least I don’t have the ongoing Facebook conversations as the smug excuse for not spending time with or taking time for people.

So that’s the real killer issue for me – WordPress and Twitter have created real relationships with tangible output. Not always benefits, but experiences and genuine connections at some level. And that surely is what social media tools should enable?

Trying out WordPress 2.7 for iOS

Wow – what an improvement! I can actually type without the app bogging down! Not sure how it’ll fare with longer posts, but the comparative speed of typing this short post is somewhat encouraging. Way to go, guys!

As an extra note, I’ve just seen the app fail gracefully while trying to post this entry when the 3G signal dropped out. The app remained stable, and kept the content ready for me to update and re-upload. That’s fixed one of my pet-hates of previous versions. Awesome.

WordPress for iOS 2.7 Now Available (via WordPress for iOS)

Just a quickie to say that I’ve been assured by the devteam that this app really is an answer to the reliability and speed issues I reported on my iPhone 4, which should make posting on the move somewhat more bearable. I’m very much looking forward to trying this out to see if it holds to its promise.

WordPress for iOS 2.7 Now Available After three months of development, WordPress for iOS 2.7 is now available in the App Store. This version fixes over 100 bugs, which means better performance and fewer crashes. Reliability Updates The main focus of this release is to improve the app’s performance and reliability. The app has been moved to Core Data, which is a much improved way of managing information locally on the device. Also, the methods used to communicate over XML-RPC have b … Read More

WordPress for iPhone improvements?

So here I am wondering whether the latest WordPress app is any quicker to use on the iPhone than previous versions.

It is a little quicker for sure, but even as I type this it feels like it’s getting slower to respond to each key – and slows down even more when the autocorrect shows up, or when having to backspace to correct something manually.

That said, the text scrolling issue seems to be solved, and I can now tilt the phone sideways and have it switch smoothly to the horizontal mode and back again.

It’s slowly getting better, folks. Bring on CoreData!

Identity via commonality

Just a quick thought… I’m new to this whole blogging thing, despite having dabbled with similar features in Apple’s iWeb software over the last few years. I think it’s fair to say that this blog is something of an experiment for me, with the aim being to see what kind of reactions I might create in people based on what I write.

One of the struggles I’ve had in putting this together is finding the right visual theme for the site. I care almost as much about visual presentation of media as I do about audio quality in general, so finding the ‘right’ look from a bunch of free, online common themes is a challenge.

So along came a blog announcement on WordPress earlier today about the new ‘elegant grunge’ theme, which I’ve applied to the site. I think it fits the slightly eclectic, rough-around-the-edges content I seem to have found interesting enough to post lately.

Maybe I’ll stick with this one for a while…