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Developer rips Facebook platform

Stashed in: Facebook!, Software!, Addiction, Attention, Microsoft, Awesome, Jerk Store, Sociopaths, @lmeadows, @alexismadrigal

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This man is my peoples! Rise up, devs of the world! You have nothing to lose but your chains!!!


This is the sort of infuriating defect the platform exhibits constantly. And it does so every week in new ways. Bugs go on for long durations without remedy. The documentation is shamefully outdated, incomplete, and unclear. Facebook deprecates or retires features—or even entire frameworks—on short notice as a result of a collective failure to bother with basic software architecture for external development. Facebook knows it can always just rebuild things; why can't everyone else? Facebook promises something it doesn't deliver. Or worse, it doesn't even promise what it doesn't deliver. Then, like the abuser who blames his victim, the company sends tone-deaf surveys asking "how can we improve," as if its worst offenses weren't obvious. This is the behavior of sociopaths.


It's all about turning your attention into money:

Facebook's systems are cobbled together in a way that helps Facebook accomplish its goals. Those include rapid changes proffering near-real-time results, thus producing familiar but slightly altered ongoing attention on the part of its users, of which its developers are a subset. But there's another aspect of rapid, reckless change that few discuss: it helps create a sense of confusion and desperation that forces developers to devote more and more attention to the Facebook Platform. What better way to increase collective commitment to Facebook apps than to quietly extort incremental time out of its creators, time that might otherwise be committed to competing products or—gasp—to their own businesses or personal lives?

Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the same ante-game compulsion loop that drives so much online behavior today. Using Facebook as a primary example, The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal recently compared it to the logic of casino slot machines. In this respect, the Facebook Platform is just a microcosm of the overall Facebook ecosystem: a place where attention is converted into company store scrip, redeemable only for future demands for greater attention.

Evidence that Facebook doesn't actually care about its platform:

The short truth is this: Facebook doesn't care if developers can use the platform easily or at all. In fact, it doesn't seem to concern itself with any of the factors that might be at play in developers' professional or personal circumstances. The Facebook Platform is a selfish, self-made altar to Facebook, at which developers are expected to kneel and cower, rather than a generous contribution to the success of developers that also happens to benefit Facebook by its aggregate effects.

This is one of those areas in which it's actually possible to learn something from Microsoft circa the 1990s. How did Microsoft develop a massively adopted ecosystem of developer products for its home and enterprise operating systems? By creating an ecosystem of development tools, programs, and documentation that helped developers do their jobs, to accomplish their goals. Documentation that is complete and accurate. Examples with clarity and utility. Slow revs of subsystems and tools that take into account the fact that the rest of us cannot and should not have to think about a development platform as a full-time job, because we're trying to use that platform to produce results that exceed it.

Wow. Facebook Platform makes Microsoft look good.

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