Suckers are born every decade but I’m out of here

I wanted to keep this to myself –if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all — but here is my contribution to the pile of B.S. spreading today on the occasion of Facebook going public.

Facebook is over, about to topple over under the weight of a spectacular overvaluation, mass indifference to financial fundamentals, and most importantly my sense of the growing indifference of the generation it was supposed to serve — college students.  Facebook was famously founded as a digital replacement to the printed freshman directories of the Ivy League but has become obese with the inane status updates and vacation bragging of those same students’ parents. My generation. The one’s who pored over the original class directories in the 1970s and “posted updates” on whiteboards glued to our dorm room doors.

Wall Street is selling scale today when the trigger is pulled on Facebook at 11 AM EST — that’s hyperbole for “lots of traffic” — and while your local investment club may be all atwitter with the prospect of buying some shares, and it’s fun to count the herd of new Facebook gazillionaires now shopping for new Colnagos and bespoke skinny jeans — the smart money has been cashing out for a long time in the private market and will continue cashing out quickly at the top.  This is not Microsoft in 1984 nor Amazon in 1996. This is not a long term bet on a significant new way of doing business or even communicating. This is an investment in the 2012 edition of CompuServe and MySpace: yet another walled garden ripe to get creatively destroyed by the next big technical thing lurking over that hill known as the future.

Future performance of Facebook’s stock depends on the company delivering profitable revenue and like Google, Facebook gets all of its money from advertising. Google builds semi-useful stuff and search is everything. Facebook advertising does not work. I managed Facebook campaigns for a Fortune Global 100 company and have first hand experience that … Facebook …. Advertising …. Does….. Not ….. Work.

General Motors figured this out, and picking the week of the IPO to announce Facebook ads aren’t working was simply perfect. Of course the counter argument from the social media douche bags is that “Facebook is all about authentic relationships and transparent conversations between brands and customers.” Consider the source, given that the SMDB’s make their bones selling their Facebook Unique Customer Karma and Emerging Digital services (you can figure out the forced acronym) to breathless CMOs who want audience, damn it, and the bigger the better.  And consider that the public relations/digital agency world is always first on any shiny object bandwagon (can you say SecondLife) and their current solemn obsession is reporting “Social ROI” as the rest of the faddish get obsessed with big data and analytics. (If you want to watch some fun navel gazing, play pissed-off CEO and ask a Digital PR person “How much is a Facebook Fan worth?”)

Companies, aka “brands,” obsess and fret about how many fans and likes they have; spend money on third-party tools like BuddyMedia to manage their presence, and set aside a slice of their digital advertising budget to buy good old display ads to run alongside the torrent of notifications and shared links that make up Facebook’s river of content. As I read elsewhere this morning, quoting Seth Godin (whom I never quote), “The Internet wasn’t invented for advertisers.”

Neither was Facebook.

Yet, in lieu of subscriptions or some twist on Warren Buffett’s theory of a toll booth on the only bridge over the river, where is Facebook’s money going to come from to sustain a valuation in the thin, thin air of $100+ billion ? If you know, then buy some stock. Me, I’m deactivating my Facebook account in honor of the TimeWarner-AOL/Prodigy/CompuServe/Groupon/ of 2012.

Two weeks ago I began dinging every over-sharer on my timeline or wall or whatever the Zuckerborg called it this month. Goodbye pictures of glasses of beer, notifications that Ed was at LAX, weird R-rated bikini videos from people in Turkey and India I have never met and will never meet. Goodbye SocialCam. Goodbye Tweets. Goodbye to All That. Now …..

Goodbye Facebook and hello to less noise in my life.


Second Life at End of Life?

Om Malik reports SecondLife founder Philip Rosedale is moseying on.

I am so glad I steered clear of virtual world marketing when it was all abuzz in 2006.

“Four months after CEO Mark Kingdon left the San Francisco-based Linden Lab, the company behind erstwhile hot virtual world, Second Life, interim CEO and founder Philip Rosedale is getting real too. He is leaving the company he started in 1999 in order to pursue his new idea – LoveMachine, a collaboration software company.

via Oh! Oh! Even Linden Lab Founder Is Leaving: Tech News «.

HP’s Eric Kintz on SecondLife

Top 10 Reasons as to why I still need to be convinced about marketing on Second Life

“I have been analyzing Second Life for months, but a great article in Brandweek titled “are marketers dying on Second Life?” prompted me to write this post.”

Okay, I’m breaking my self-imposed vow of 2L silence, but Eric’s list so closely mirrored mine that I had to point at it.

When 10 Hours Is Not Enough To Appreciate True Awesomeness

Zen of Design»Blog Archive » When 10 Hours Is Not Enough To Appreciate True Awesomeness

I’ve been taken down at GigaGamez for slagging Second Life after a mere ten hours of usage. Guess I need to put in … what? …forty hours before I am permitted to ask questions about something being pushed on me. Guess twenty-five years as a tech journalist and countless software and online reviews don’t qualify me to express an opinion. Hey, at least I was frank in grading my “expertise” with the system as an F-minus. To follow the logic, I’m not permitted to say a meal sucks unless I’ve cooked the dish a certain number of times. Hey — like I said in my original critique: “your mileage may vary. Me: I don’t like it.”
Thanks to Damian Schubert for making my rebuttal for me at Zen of Design:

“James Wagner Au is incensed that people who have not played the game much are criticizing it. Which I suppose is would be a fair criticism, if it were true. But look at what he claims is not enough.Regarding proficiency with Second Life, [one reviewer] e-mailed back, “Mark me with an F. Make that an F minus.” He estimates his total visitations as ten hours or under, in which he more or less randomly explored a world the geographic size of an entire state, to form his assessment.

That’s right – 10 hours is not enough time to make an honest assessment of the Second Life experience. By comparison, my games rack is full of games that didn’t survive an HOUR of playtime. Electronic Arts (and most other companies) force their designers to obsess over the first FIVE MINUTES of gameplay, because most games don’t even survive THAT. Okay, someone reviewing the game should probably give it a tad more time than than but… 10 hours – not enough!”

I’ve wasted enough time on this topic as it is. I could return Mr. Wagner Au’s trashing with an in-kind slam at his methods and objectivity, but …. on to more important matters in my first life.

Digital Download By David M. Ewalt

Digital Download By David M. Ewalt

Making fun of Second Life is so much fun. This is a classic screed; tip of the hat to Valleywag who have taken the flag and run with it.

“Here’s the ultimate problem with Second Life: unless you’re some kind of sexual deviant who gets off by pretending to be a diaper-wearing man-fox, it’s boring as hell. If I want to chat with people, I can do it in IM without having to deal with lag, annoying ambient music, and all manner of freaks of nature. If I want to see cool imaginary worlds, I’ll watch a movie. And if I want to really nerd out and pretend I’m some sort of fantastic creature, I’ll stick with my Night Elf rogue, thank you.”

I’m sticking with my Level 29 Dwarf Hunter.

Valleywag’s Second Life takedown continues

AVATARS IN THE NEWS: A guide to Anshe Chung – Valleywag

Denton has brought Valleywag back from near death by making it one of the best, most caustic, and piercing critiques of the stupidity that reigns online. From their latest in their incessant coverage of Second Life hype, is this wonderful line:

“And marketing consultants, in their constant search for empty novelty, and easy press coverage, have talked their more credulous clients into substantial expenditure on in-world campaigns.”

Those consultants are the ones I addressed back in November. Go away. I don’t do “new” for the sake of newness.

Counting the real ‘Second Life’ population | CNET

Counting the real ‘Second Life’ population | CNET

Daniel Terdiman, CNET’s Second Life reporter, covers Clay Shirky’s campaign to clarify Second Life’s dubious traffic numbers — number in two in my list of reasons why I won’t be building an island there anytime soon. Terdiman gets a thumbs up for some objective reporting — he was one of the reporters called out for misreporting the “resident” number reported by 2L. The NYT went off the deep end earlier this week, but I’m too lazy to site the sloppy reporting.

David Kirkpatrick at Fortune also took time to explain himself under the Shirky critique, conceding “The product is unusable by most casual users.”
From CNET:

“We’re being asked to believe that this is the future of the Internet,” said Clay Shirky, a writer and professor at New York University’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, referring to the grandiose hype surrounding Second Life and its cultural significance.”If you’re being told that something is the future of the Internet and the arguments are based on the incredible popularity, the first thing you want to understand is how popular it is,” Shirky added.

As of Wednesday, Linden Lab reported that there were 2,325,015 “residents” of Second Life. The company defines each of those as representing “a uniquely named avatar with the right to log in to Second Life, trade currency and visit the community pages.”

Here’s the problem: that total does not equate to what is commonly considered by most Web or online businesses as “active users,” in large part because many people who sign up for Second Life try it once and never come back, and because individuals can have as many as five different avatars, each of which would count as a “resident.”

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