I’ve been considering closing my Facebook account for a while now, and after chatting to a few people about antisocial software at the weekend I’ve started to wonder whether to actually do it. Ironically I was talking about leaving Facebook at a party organised on Facebook, and I think the event organising bit is the feature I would miss the most.

So, how do you leave Facebook? Aside from the technicalities of finding a delete option that is, and confirming a few times that yes I really do want to delete. I still value the connections I’ve made, or rediscovered, through Facebook, so to start with there’ll be some exercise in pulling out all the good eggs and keeping track of them some other way.

Photo © themonnie cc by-sa 2.0

Finding alternatives is partly what’s pushing me to make the jump. 2011 is my year of paper, so that’s one option, but not an especially interesting one. Another is to continue to add business contacts to LinkedIn; I already started to counter work related Facebook requests with a LinkedIn invite. That is just moving from one walled garden to another though and, while the new garden may have less annoying farm animals in, it would be nice to leave the silos behind. I wonder if the semantic web can come to the rescue.

Then there’s a choice of which exit to use. A few alternatives I can think of:

  • Don’t look directly at it – stop logging in but leave everything there. Perhaps a bit to tempting too pop back in now and then, which isn’t that different to my current use of Facebook.
  • Just jump and hope the parachute opens – delete my account (if that’s possible!) without any warning. It doesn’t seem quite right to cut and run that suddenly, and there’s a chance I could lose touch with a few people.
  • Invite people to a ‘goodbye’ event – could even make it a real event in a pub, which would be a bonus!
  • Delete everything on the profile but leave it there – just in case…
  • Create a page/group instead – i.e. leave some place holder behind, with a signpost to this blog etc

What are the disadvantages of leaving Facebook though? I don’t want to be too hasty. It is good to hear how people are doing, but I do wonder whether I’ve been worse at keeping in touch with friends properly as a result of being able to take a quick look online instead. I have an idea that at least some of the pull for staying is just the thought that you might be missing out in some way. (In most respects I think that’s just an illusion.) Having said that, Facebook events are quite a nice way to organise get togethers…

Decisions, decisions. Should I stay, or should I go?

Update: ten more good reasons to leave, but the chances are I’ll still be using Facebook this time next year! (28 December 2012)


A brief history of web versions

Listening to the “Web 3.0: Are We There Yet?” DM Radio broadcast has got me grumbling about the latest version of The Web again. To be fair, it isn’t just a web thing; I get the same urge to scream whenever marketing types start messing about with version numbers. There was some interesting discussion on that DM Radio episode as well, but that’s not what this post is about.

Just to be absolutely clear, The Web does not have A Version. It’s not helpful. Stop it.

Having had a similar moan about Web 2.0 on my internal blog some years ago, I decided to catch up with the latest Web 3.0 hype. One of the first things I found were these Web 3.0 slides. Which really wasn’t a good start, given I disagree with just about everything in them. Since web versions seem to be a participation sport, here’s my web fiction to illustrate:

Web 0.9

Nothing ever starts with version 1 does it?! At this point I think I should apologise for my part in the demise of the internet… my first experience of the internet was when I started university in 1993… sorry about the mess.

Still, contrary to alternative histories, the web didn’t start with media companies being so kind as to push content to users. My recollection is that it started with all content being user generated, whether that was usenet content, or hand crafted HTML content. Businesses weren’t on this version of the web.

Web 1.0

Search. For me that’s what would really be worthy of a new version number. In the beginning the web really was a web, of links. I still like following links to see where the web takes me, hence the stupid number of tabs I have open most of the time, just waiting for a chance to get round to reading them. Even so, being able to find stuff without stumbling across it, or being given a specific URL, is great. Thanks Google… and those other search engines I used back then (maybe they even still exist).

Still plenty of user generated content in Web 1.0. Geocities for example- oh how we’ve moved on. You don’t even need to upgrade to get social networking: Six Degrees and Friends Reunited. Maybe even Friendster if you upgrade to Web 2.0 a bit late.

Oh yes, and businesses begin to get in on the act by inflating a huge bubble. Nice.

Web 2.0

There hasn’t been enough hype up to this point, so the web gets its first version number. Luckily everyone agrees on exactly what Web 2.0 is. If only it was that clear, and I certainly wasn’t the only one who was skeptical. Around the same time, I was also muttering…

Are you a Web 2.0 sceptic?! (27 Jan 2006)

I am.

Why Web 2.0 all of a sudden? Shouldn’t we be on Web 6.1 or something by now?! (No, seriously; from text based, to graphics, to that little Java guy waving at you everywhere, to blinking text, to scripts, to buying stuff, to css, to getting scammed, to PHP, to friends reunited, to the internet2, and all the other stuff I’ve missed. And now we have the Web 2.0? Whatever.)

Sure, technology and business models are still advancing, and smart stuff is happening, but I can’t work out whether the Web 2.0, dare I say hype, is driven by money (so you have a web site, why not do e-business, but hey, you really want to be on-demand don’t you?), techies (my new widget is shinier than yours!) or a combination of both. Will it be the next .com? And what’s planned for Web 3.0?

The  appetite for user generated content is stronger than ever, with more users and more (and easier) ways to share stuff. Much less mucking about with geeky markup… unless you pick the wrong wiki. (I still fail to understand why a inconsistent wiki markup was better than plain old HTML.)

Web 3.0

Now things get even more ridiculous, “we already know what the next development in web technology will be called, we just don’t know what it is yet.

For a while it looked like Web 3.0 might neatly be in 3D, but virtual worlds appear to be well and truly down in the trough of disillusionment now. Another contender is the Semantic Web, but wait a minute a) that already has a name, and b) haven’t we been waiting for that ages already, maybe even before Web 2.0? I guess a nice descriptive name is no reason not to use a meaningless fictitious version number instead!

There are plenty of other features floating around which might make it in to the Web 3.0 version.

Web 4.0

That’s right, we haven’t even reached Web 3.0 yet and there’s already a Web 4.0! (Probably many Web 4.0s!) Maybe we should just skip a few versions!

The graph on Ambiguating the terminology: Web 4.0 is a great illustration of why version numbers don’t make any sense.

The web continuum

So, to recap, the web doesn’t have a version number! Its development is a continuum of evolving technologies. I can see there’s a case for looking at the web’s development from a higher level than each individual component, but wouldn’t more descriptive names be more useful than meaningless versions? Early Web, Dynamic Web, Social Web, Semantic Web, Internet of Things, Mobile Web, Smarter Web, Virtual Web. No? Just as meaningless? Oh well.

Luckily, if you completely disagree with all this ranting, this weblog is fully Web 2.5 enabled, so you can leave your own thoughts below. Why not let me know what version of the web you use and how often you upgrade?!