How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook

Just read an interesting column by Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing on InformationWeek. Here is an excerpt:

…In the real world, we don’t articulate our social networks. Imagine how creepy it would be to wander into a co-worker’s cubicle and discover the wall covered with tiny photos of everyone in the office, ranked by “friend” and “foe,” with the top eight friends elevated to a small shrine decorated with Post-It roses and hearts. And yet, there’s an undeniable attraction to corralling all your friends and friendly acquaintances, charting them and their relationship to you. Maybe it’s evolutionary, some quirk of the neocortex dating from our evolution into social animals who gained advantage by dividing up the work of survival but acquired the tricky job of watching all the other monkeys so as to be sure that everyone was pulling their weight and not napping in the treetops instead of watching for predators, emerging only to eat the fruit the rest of us have foraged.

…You’d think that Facebook would be the perfect tool for [keeping track of our social relationships]. It’s not. For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there’s a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I’d cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, “Am I your friend?” yes or no, this instant, please.

Pay No Attention to the English-Speaking Israeli behind the Facebook

There is no way around it, when it comes to computers, I am old school. When I first laid my hands on a keyboard, I was about seven years old and all the letters were in English. It was an Apple II clone, there was no hard disk, instead of a mouse there was a joystick, and of course there was no Hebrew involved.
The grown-up world was still trying to make these business machines work, so making them work in Hebrew, a language used by a few million people, was unheard-of.
To this day whenever I get an annoying ‘my computer does not work’ phone call from one of my computer illiterate friends, the first thing I am trying to establish is what pretentious action was executed to make a popular software fail. One time it was Nero not being able to burn Hebrew-named files onto a CD. Another time it was a graphics editor that kept refusing to open photos from a Hebrew named folder.
This is why I consider myself old school, as I always try to make it work and never insist on making it work my way. My thinking is always: it worked for a couple billion users, what possibly could Dana from Jerusalem do to make it break down?

Shahar with his Apple clone computer - 1984

I am aware, though, that I am pretty much alone in this battle: while I consider Hebrew an added bonus within the IT world, most Israelis approach it with a sense of entitlement. ‘If it does not work in Hebrew – it does not work’ some say. Others confess to not even trying to read any English, pressing the [Yes] or [No] buttons arbitrarily or by gut instinct.
The number 1 movie database is in English? Let’s use database number 700 – it’s in Hebrew!
You Google for answers in Hebrew and get none? Chances are you stumbled upon one of those eternal unanswered mysteries of the universe!

Shahar and his brother Liran with their Apple clone computer - 1986

This was pretty much the mentality around here, until MySpace and Facebook arrived. All of a sudden, Israelis found out they can read and write in English when they want to, and they started seeing the benefit in communicating worldwide using one universal language.
For all those people (some of which are my best friends) I hold the utmost disdain:
You who have frowned upon your (copied) software for not doing what you wanted it to do,
You who have allowed your personal computers to contract viruses, Trojan horses and venereal diseases because the warnings were in English,
You who have called your geeky friends in all hours of the day and night, horrified that your computer stopped working after clicking ‘Yes’ to an ‘Are you sure?’ message box you have not read,
All of you should be ashamed.

Only now did you discover you can actually put to use the second language your country made you learn from grade 4 to 12?

Chumbawamba Criticizes MySpace Culture – on Their MySpace Page

Chumbawamba      is one of my favorite bands – always political, always relevant and always quick and precise in expressing their opinions in hot-button issues. With a career spanning 25 years, it is a real shame most people know only one of their songs, Tubthumping (‘I get knocked down / But I get up again / You’re never going to keep me down’). The release of this song was, in my humble opinion, the worst public relations move they could ever do because most people now think of them as a cool-fun-one-hit-wonder-band and most do not bother to listen to any of their other songs.

After previously discussing issues as diverse as cultural imperialism, sweatshops, Tony Blair, the war in Iraq and Paris Hilton, they posted a new song on their MySpace page – this one is about Web 2.0 culture, I guess. For your listening pleasure, here are the lyrics:

Chumbawamba – Add Me – lyrics

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Buy this MP3 track or buy the entire album.

I’m a loner alone with neurosis and hate
Anger is a permanent character trait
My letter bombs are primed and they’re ready to send
Would you like to add me as a friend?

I’m a wound-up whiner with a fetish for guns
I’m almost fifty and I live with my mum
I hope my nude picture doesn’t offend
Would you like to add me as a friend?

Chorus:
Add me, add me,
My momma says she wish she never had me
Add me, add me,
Would you like to add me as a friend?
Would you like to add me as a friend?

I’m a recovering alcoholic; I rarely leave my room,
Peeping through the curtains in my dog costume,
The voices in my head, aah… they’ll get me in the end
Would you like to add me as a friend?

I really like to mail you the picture that I drew,
It’s Kylie’s body, but the head is you
I’ve asked you fifty times before I’m asking you again
Would you like to add me as a friend?

Chorus

Here’s a picture of me in my Nazi uniform
Doing a trick with an egg that I like to perform
At a monster truck rally that my mum and me attend
Would you like to add me as a friend?

I’ve added Britney, and Paris, and you and Tom,
I’m gonna find your address so I can visit you at home,
I don’t like people, but I like to pretend
Would you like to add me as a friend?

Chorus