This article was published on September 22, 2011

Sean Parker shares his thoughts on the latest Facebook updates, via Facebook updates

Sean Parker shares his thoughts on the latest Facebook updates, via Facebook updates
Drew Olanoff
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Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

In a series of public posts on Facebook late last night, Sean Parker shares how he feels about some of the new changes, focusing on lists and subscriptions.

In the interest of keeping Parker’s thoughts whole and intact so as to avoid any miscommunication, we’ve included the full very public and extremely insightful posts.

It seems like Sean Parker, who owns 7% of Facebook stock, and also an early Advisor and President from 2004-05, is somewhat happy with the changes he sees. But not completely.

Finally, a useful and well integrated list capability… The idea that a list is really a way of filtering your feed, first and foremost, is one that I’ve wanted for quite a long time.

Parker would like to see friend list building featured even more prominently, though.

As for lists, it’s still too painful to use. I’d like to see list-building surfaced even more prominently. The context menus that appear on hover over every username should appear instantly, without the tedious delay. When the context menu appears the list-membership dialog should be expanded by default and if the user belongs to any lists at all, these should be clearly indicated.

Below, Parker describes the new subscription feature, and how it is completely separate from friending. As we know, up until now, that wasn’t obvious on Facebook. If someone said “Not Now” to your friend request, they were made a subscriber until you dug in deeper and said “No” to their initial friend request.

Even more confusingly, subscription within a given list should behave the way it sounds: as an all or nothing feature. This would make sense if subscription existed as a part of the list feature, but in Facebook’s model it’s actually two completely independent concepts. The only place where users might want to adjust the “degree” of subscription is in Facebook’s algorithmic “news feed” … but past evidence indicates that we have, in practice, no fucking idea what “more” or “less” of a given person’s updates really means.

On the topic of list building, which seems to be a hot topic at the moment. It’s not that lists are a huge breakthrough. It’s just that they represent a departure from the philosophy that Facebook has had for years… specifically the idea that users don’t wan’t these tools, they don’t want to think, they don’t want to do anything that might be construed as work to get a better experience. When in fact this is exactly what Facebook users wanted all along — control. The ability to sort and filter their network of friends in whatever way seemed right to them, without being at the mercy of Facebook’s seemingly arbitrary black box news feed algorithms. I suspect that most users won’t get too fancy with these tools, they’ll just use them casually to sort the wheat from the chaff, building a list of of “close friends” who they actually care to follow and leaving the rest to Facebook’s cyborg intelligence. What I do think will become clear with time is that while Facebook was doing a piss poor job of making these decisions on our behalf, most users never paid it much heed until they were given a taste of the alternative in the form of a simple toolset to do the job for themselves.

Basically, Sean Parker is saying that it’s not all about computers here, there is an element of human curation that is very important for a social network. The new Facebook tools merely help you by suggesting people to add to lists, not actually do it for you. That’s something to focus on.

Sean Parker then signs off for the night, seems very proud of his Facebook friends and team, and is ready for F8, as we are at The Next Web.

think I’ve said enough for one night… But just to be absolutely clear, lest anyone misinterpret my ranting, I’m incredibly happy with where the product is headed and this is a proud moment to be an owner and friend of the company. Regardless of whether you’re exhilarated or aggravated by the recent changes, there’s a lot more good things coming down the pipe… Looking forward to f8…

It’s great to see someone like Sean Parker still very much interested and involved in the company that he helped make what it is today, and from what we’ve heard, he’s not done there.

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