I commute. The price I pay for living where I want to and working where I want to is approximately 4 hours a day travelling; about 2 hours 10 minutes of which are spent sitting on a train. I undertake a whole range of activities while I travel: sometimes I sit and think, sometimes I catch up with friends (the Stella express we like to call it), I read, I listen to music, listen to books, work, sleep, catch up on emails – so many choices.
Two items that I always have with me are my mobile phone and my Blackberry and I use them for a variety of things including accessing Facebook. I have downloaded the Facebook app for my Blackberry which, on inspection, seems to be missing something.
This is not a post about Facebook and its relative merits (another time).
The Blackberry Facebook app provides easy functions to check friends’ recent status updates, update you status, should you choose to you can ‘poke’ people, send them messages, write on their wall, upload a photo (though my Blackberry doesn’t take them) and I think that is it. Oh yes, it gives you a link to go to the Facebook Mobile site (again, another time).
What it doesn’t do is allow you to see responses. I can send a message but not receive one. I can ‘poke’ someone but not be notified of ‘pokes’ (oh dear) received. Without going into the lots of communication theory I think we can agree that feedback is an important part of it; communication quite important to socialising and therefore to a social network. No?
So my Blackberry Facebook app seems to allow me to broadcast without feedback; rather like when my brother and I used to fight when we were small: say something and then close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears and sing loudly so you can’t hear the response.
Thankfully the Blackberry Facebook app doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it very kindly gives me a link to the mobile site.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the change that Facebook message notification email now contains the content of the actual Facebook message, I have yet to hear anyone complain about that (happy to hear though); not including the message in the notification email is rather like (picking on my brother again) walking past the post in the hallway and then coming to tell me some of it is for me: “and why didn’t you bring it?”
So there I am, sitting on the train, with this device that is all about communication, trying to access a site that is all about socialising and yet it is a dreadfully disconnected, cumbersome experience. The Blackberry is so good at treating email, SMS, even Google Chat as part of the same – very effective – interface why is this one so disconnected?
Cue the rumoured arrival of the Facebook Phone.
Is this the right approach? Facebook communication seamlessly integrated with phone functionality? Ring your friends, SMS them, Poke them?
As long as I get to find out if there was a response, without having to walk to the letter box myself then I certainly wouldn’t have any objection!