Take Facebook’s recently-launched music integration, for example. Right now as I stare at my Ticker, I’m seeing a stream of songs that my friends are listening to. Sometimes I’ve never heard of the song. Sometimes I have. Sometimes I really like the song. And, almost always, my immediate impulse is neither to ‘Like’ their update nor to start listening to that song myself. I usually just shrug my shoulders.
The fundamental issue is that there’s no context or emphasis around any of these posts. I see song after song scroll by, and I don’t know which ones are actually important to my friends. I don’t know which are the tracks they love — and which are the tracks they left playing as they stepped away to grab lunch. And, as more applications and sites begin syndicating into the Ticker, I’m going to run into the same problem. I won’t know which news articles my friends have endorsed, and which ones they just happened to click on because they saw a link in Twitter. And there’s just so much stuff.
Today, Facebook rolled out a new commenting system for blogs and third-party sites. We’ve implemented it here on TechCrunch, and after a few hours of the system being live it is obvious that it has its share of pros and cons. Readers have certainly noticed, and there is already a ton debate about whether this is good or bad for the Internet.
It is certainly not perfect. Facebook comments don’t support Twitter or Google logins. It doesn’t yet allow sites to archive their comments to make backups (although an API for that is forthcoming I am told), and switching away from Facebook comments after a few months on the system looks like it will be a hassle (data portability anyone?). Some corporations block Facebook, which kills it as a commenting system for that subset of users. In one fell swoop it could hurt Disqus, which is a great startup that’s been perfecting its commenting system for years. And there are lots of little bugs we’ve noticed that hopefully will be fixed soon (we were manually moderating every comment on TechCrunch until a few minutes ago, and you still can’t see a comment count at the top of each post like you could before).
Once again, I’m flabbergasted that Facebook would design a system to allow importing all of a blog’s users into a Facebook-connected framework, without offering the same kind of reciprocity, including data backups and control over the display. They are sliding down such a slippery slope…