It's no secret that the folks at facebook have gotten increasingly focused on competing with Twitter to become our source for the never-ending stream of news and minutiae without which we clearly can not draw breath. The much-maligned redesign was clearly an attempt to turn the news feed into "twitter on steroids"; unfortunately, like with real steroids, unintended consequences often result.
- facebook has a whole lot richer store of data than twitter does - photos, videos, events, etc. this data is organized in a pretty useful way (think microformats), so if people used it right, they could take the basic concept behind twitter and remix it in such a way as to make a much richer user experience
- for facebook to consider alternatives internally, get consensus on what to do, build them, test them, and then release them to 200,000,000 users would take way longer than they have to fix the user experience
- it would be hard for facebook to do a lot of experimentation and iteration on alternatives, because every small change they make is subject to such scrutiny, commentary, second-guessing and tea-leaf-reading (not to mention the outpouring of opinions from millions of very passionate users) that figuring out exactly what to do would be difficult
- and besides, there is no guarantee that the "best" user experience will come from inside facebook - after all, of those 200,000,000 users, there are likely hundreds of thousands of people who have development skills, and all of their users have opinions and ideas.
- but most importantly, they must have realized that twitter's api has been the key to its growth, a fact that has been reiterated time and again by twitter's founders and by the many journalists and bloggers who have covered twitter's meteoric growth.
- Everyone who has built a twitter app can add facebook to it as well. Tweetdeck, my app of choice, now has a facebook column, and as functionality grows, I expect to interact with facebook more through a third-party app than through facebook's user interface. This makes sense; I rarely visit twitter.com anymore.
- At least one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have clamored for a return to the old user interface will build a third party app that looks just like the old facebook.
- Thousands of new apps are being developed as we speak, far from the prying eyes of the facebook-watchers. They're being circulated among friends, redesigned, reworked, and refined. Many of them will never get traction, but some inevitably will...and I'll bet that some of the most popular ones will come from people none of us have heard of - and who would never be able to get the attention of facebook execs.