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Prokofy Neva

BTW, the Facebook people are kind of like virtual worlds, that got started out filling up their worlds with a lot of social and game stuff, drinks you send people and vampire bytes and silly groups.

But eventually they will evolve into "Facebook for Business" or something like that which shears off all the clutter and the drinks and movie trivia and functions as a clear channel. In fact, with just some discipline and a bit of severity, you can make it do that now by weeding out garrulous drink-sending friends.

The Facebook dude has something really, really golden now: people's clear channels without spam in them. He has to make this pay so that he has an incentive to keep making the donuts every morning, and we can be sure that he relieves us of Viagra spam.

Now's the time when he needs to make Facebook Premium which has a really great IM/mail/communications interface that also has the ability to have videos and such.


Hi, Prokofy
You are describing four problems:
1. How to make e-mails easier to find (actually gmail does it beautifully, I suggest trying it).
2. How to solve spam problem. The ONLY solution is in pure economics - make 'priority mail' or whatever you call it a premium service. There can be ways for an adressee to return the 'stamp' cost. It has been well studied and it is a well known fact that 20c price tag on an e-mail would do away with 'viagra' stuff.
3. Identity and 'social graph'. You want your mailer to KNOW 'who's this guy' and prioritize the e-mails accordingly. Can be done, but NOT 'facebook-like'. Facebook is a dead end, it is going to nowhere.
4. Visual metaphor/representation. This is the most interesting problem. Actually 2D 'desktop' would not be cool enough for a fast adoption (IMHO). How about 3D 'office'? It's doable, btw. I think we finish this thing (60% ready right now) by May. I promise to give you one. :)

Prokofy Neva

1. No, gmail is no different, it still has the same concept of folders and layout like any box, it's not tag clouds as I envision, it merely has a better search engine, not surprisingly, being Google.

2. People will pay for email if it comes to them without spam, but the big companies that continue to offer free mail and spam filters are victims of their own success, people will find it difficult to pay for this now. But pay they must; it does cost something.

3. I don't care about "social graph" -- that's just some dumb geeky thing that is rigid and immoveable, as if fluid human relationships and networks could be reduced to a static footprint that somebody could snag a copy of and sell to eternally.

What I'm talking about is me having control over that flow of communications such that I can pick out key words as I would of Internet texts using Google, and arrange it visually in ways that help me to work on it -- and save it in a more intuitive way.

4. What thing are you finishing by May? I didn't get the reference.


3. That's exactly what I was saying. Human relationships are too fluid, they don't fit into a rigid scheme of 'friendships' and 'groups', that's why Facebook-type game is a dead end.
4. A '3D office' for e-mails and collaboration. And there will be some avatarized 'assistants'/robots in this personal office later on. :)

Prokofy Neva

Re 3: well, I don't think Facebook is dead or will die just because tekkies are stupid and try to reduce fluid relationships to graphs. Perhaps dealing at the crowd-control macro level that tekkies love to deal with, they will find patterns and try to work with them and push them. But the minute they become too confining, people will move on. Or the best and the brightest will move on.

At this point, Facebook is still semi-useful precisely because of the clear channel. I do have to put up with some friends and relatives who send me junk every day -- it's like the sort of spam you can't turn off because you don't want to hurt the person's feelings. You can eventually get rid of some of these worst friendly spammers (i.e. who send you cat pictures, not Viagra ads) by gradually trimming them away of just deleting them.

And it's the ability still to have the freedom to do something like friend Will Wright on Facebook that is still fascinating, but I find that I forget to check it some days because none of the stuff people are doing in it -- contests, music trading, etc. -- is interesting to me.


'Clear channel' is a good way to put it. The scheme of 'friends' and 'groups' is dead and I can explain why. It is dead because YOUR immediate state of mind is not taken into account. And that's why they feel 'stupid' and 'rigid'. That's why people use them mostly as a 'hang-outs'. They are designed for people who don't know what they are doing at the time (or are 'hangin-out' if you will :) ).
The opposite approach would be: to ask what exactly the user is doing right now (twitter-like question... MAYBE), then adjust the whole application immediately and SERVE you with what may be necessary for what you are doing. See what I mean?
The application should adjust to the user present state, not she or he would need to 'reconfigure' the damn stupid thing to the immediate need. And that is... probably (I tend to believe it)... THE 'next big thing'. In a peculiar way it seems to be more doable and understandable within the 3D world environment and avatarized representation. Just because our brain 'UNDERSTANDS' and REMEMBERS (Philip had said it somewhere and it's true) it better.

Prokofy Neva

Yes, I think that's a very good analysis, Alex. You want what you want right now, not what you wanted yesterday.

The secret to Twitter, however, is to understand that when it asks "What are you doing right now?" (Facebook is no different with its "status" thing) only after a few weeks of Buddhism, did people then drop it.

They don't answer that question; they answer another one: "what are you thinking right now?"

"What are you noticing and wishing to share right now?"

"What do you wish to show off about right now?"


And that's why it stuck.

If people reported faithfully what they are doing, the vision of a lot of pale, overweight or gangly people at their computer terminals typing inanities would be off-putting.

It's only because some of them could show off taking Twitter on their cell phones (more expensive!) that they could write, "Talking to Jimmy at Davos now" or "Waiting for the flight to Tokyo and planning for my fabulous board meeting" etc.

Then enough other normal people could put "waiting for my wife to have a baby" or "seeing if she'll ask me home with her" etc that it could spice a little more interest.

Read it now, however, for the Metarati, and it's just a vanity linker. That's ok, I don't mind it, because it has good stuff on it every day like Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble, etc. It's a microblogger.

Now, as to your idea that this fluid state is something I need for email and don't want groups, I disagree.

There is a group of people I've worked with for 25 years, I will never be wanting to shed them, my colleagues in my field, my work friends, people on jobs I do, etc. I want them to be easily taggable and always be searchable.

Then there's relatives who have been with me for the last 51 years, I can hardly dump them, as much as some of them "need" dumping. You know, that kind of thing.

Facebook tried to freeze those things into activities, however, and that is what grates. I want the clear channel to my nieces etc. but I don't want also to have to get the same movie star quiz they've sent to all their boyfriends.

Ann Otoole

i hate email. i have some email accounts i have used on certain sl related websites. any connect to those accounts reveals hundreds of bogus spam messages. email is pretty worthless these days. i agree an instant messenger account is much better since you have control over who can contact you. facebook has privacy problems and has marked themselves for an eventual demise because of it. once enough people realize all there private activities are broadcast all over they will eventually discontinue using the service.

Cocoanut Koala

Skimmed this one, too, since I'm still recovering from toothy things.

I just want to say I read my e-mail at least every couple of months, whether it needs reading or not.




Just a quick comment on:
"Now, as to your idea that this fluid state is something I need for email and don't want groups, I disagree."
Your examples are not exactly 'groups'. You can call them 'groups' if you feel comfortable with the word, but in fact they are INDIVIDUAL relationships having some degree of similarity. F.i. let's take a look at imaginary 'group' named 'relatives' in your example of a niece(s) and "some of them" that "... "need" dumping". In terms of FB classification they would be a 'group', but in fact they are a 'collection'/'set' or very different individual relationships IN A CURRENT STATE (!!!). That's what I meant to say.

As to 'twitter-like question' - you are right, there is a problem how to interpret an answer, but it is doable too. There must be several separate agents matching it with a particular aspect of the state of your life, projects, knowledge. It's a long story to tell. Some day. :)

Anyway, thank you for this discussion. I was glad to have an opportunity to compare our points of view on this problem.


why is everyone so quick to label email as obsolete. It's used extensively in business, I check my email daily and communicate with clients often via email. I have a few email accounts with hotmail and gmail. hotmail is exquisitely annoying as spam mail consistently builds up in my inbox and junk mail but gmail is excellent, i haven't had a single spam message enter my inbox. I also pay for email hosting for my website and constantly check, reply and send out emails to clients or people who have questions. As far as I know there is nothing on the internet or in another form that makes email obsolete. I can't see communication getting any better unless people send messages via a hologram that pops out of there cellphone or computer screen. Someone mentioned something about 3D email, would that not be rediculous as some messages are private or contain important and confidential information, which is why we have email accounts, so we don't have to send this type of information over facebook or twitter.

Prokofy Neva

I don't label it as obsolete. I continue to use it and try to tame it. But I also migrate to other things that have a cleaner and more useable interface and functionality.

I'm not suggesting the contents of my mail be public. I'm suggesting it be more accessible to search and save and use *on my desktop*.

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