What I don’t like about Facebook..and a geographic diversion

I’ve been playing with Facebook for a little while now, and I’m really impressed with it, but I have a couple of minor niggly gripes.

Political views


This may make perfect sense if you are in America but it doesn’t work for anywhere else.  


A more general challenge I find with social media is the glib use of the word friend. Perhaps I’ve been living in Germany too long where the German equivalent is used sparingly, and the terms colleague and acquaintance don’t have the same pejorative sense that they can do in English. There are a number of people I would like to have in my network, but I’m not sure that I would classify them as friends (or they me!). Stephen O’Grady has a thoughtful post- “does this mean we are friends anymore?”

Let’s have a quick poke

The term poke has a second meaning in British and South African slang, namely to have sex. Seeing the term poke Dennis! on my screen is a tad offputting.  So far I have resisted the temptation. 

A geographic diversion

I also find the use of England, Wales and Scotland rather than UK in the country codes rather surprising. It presupposes rather more devolution than is currently the case, but that is a really minor gripe. I’d suggest using the iso3166-1 list, as one avoids any political mishaps

Compared to the example my old school friend Simon  refers to here, this is a very minor geographic hiccup. (hope he doesn’t mind me lifting the post)

More listbox laughs. I’ve talked about interesting listboxes before, but this latest one combines really poor geography and history in a single list. In fact, some of the listings here pre-date DOS, the Internet, and probably DARPA itself. Definitely Fedex. Hell, maybe even the postal service for some of them. See what I mean:

My mate is trying to fill in a web form. Wait, where’s South Africa in the country list? Huh? This is what’s listed instead: wheres_sa.jpg
(To some our geographically-challenged North American friends, South Africa is south of France 🙂

Here’s more information on ‘whereTranskei is, and what happened to SWA.

But it gets better. Where’s Zimbabwe?

Digging around the list comes up with these hints:
And ladies and gentlemen, step into my time machine: nyas.jpg.

Wtf is Nyasaland you ask. Good question.

Oh, by the way, the site sells iPod covers, great product. But really odd reg. forms.

But seriously, Facebook is very impressive. It is clean, simple, performant, viral and fun. It is also really useful.

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8 thoughts on “What I don’t like about Facebook..and a geographic diversion”

  1. Poke – quite.

    I do wince at the ‘friends’ thing as well.

    These guys may be smart, they may be young but I rather suspect their reading from some 19th century tome on geography.

  2. On social sites a “Friend” is anyone who will accept an invitation whether you know them or not. Given this demographic, friends in the common sense probably should be called “Homies” category….

    Peace out,
    Systematic 😉

  3. Tend to agree to this whole “friends” term. I have now kept facebook to be more social focused network and keep my business network elsewhere (LinkedIn/Xing).

    I would also have to agree that the term “friend” in the Web 2.0 sense is blurred like many other things !

  4. Thomas, you have successfully identified a number of points that irritate me about the otherwise excellent Facebook. I can’t believe that ‘Friend’ and ‘Poke’ have different meanings online to the real world. Mind you, Simon’s list box tour of southern Africa was a hoot, and so is Susan’s comment on the inalienable American right to geographical ignorance.

    Does it annoy you that the admin page for WordPress (again, otherwise excellent) says ‘Howdy [insert name here]’? It does me, for reasons I can’t quite explain. It’s a sort of false chumminess. They don’t know who I am for goodness sake. A simple ‘Hello’ would be fine.

    BTW, Danah Boyd’s essay on class, MySpace and Facebook makes an excellent read: http://www.danah.org/papers/essays/ClassDivisions.html

  5. Nyasaland – only about 40 years out of date.
    Its tough enough telling foreigners I am in Gauteng provice, maybe they should look for me under the Transvaal Republic?

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