Frictionless or seamless sharing, how about mindless sharing

Automatically sharing user’s every move on the Internet on their social media profile, to mean that that is what they care about, is plain dumb. This seems to be what Facebook and others are aiming to do. This surely makes it easy to stalk people, but it makes no sense when no human action isn’t explicitly causing the sharing.

The first thing you noticed when Google Buzz was activated was that it turned everyone you’ve ever had email exchange with into a friend. If you think about that for one second, you immediately see that that was a mindless thing to do.  A public outcry ensued forcing Google to make changes, but apparently other people don’t learn from such missteps.

I  regularly use Twitter’s Favourites button to bookmark items that I intend to read later. Once I’m done reading an item I remove it from my Favourites. I do exactly the same thing with Google Reader, just bookmark stuff for reading later. Does that mean that I’m in love with whatever was bookmarked, or that I even like it? Absolutely not. And I think I’m not alone.

A while back, when I discovered that sites apparently unrelated to Facebook were able to use my active Facebook session to automatically display a list of my friends, I was quite annoyed. From that moment on I always log out from Facebook after each visit, and that seemed to have temporarily stopped the stalking. Now, with their so-called frictionless sharing, Facebook is returning with a mirror of that stalking feature: stalk your Internet activity and report it back to Facebook. This is not only dumb, but it also makes the notion of sharing pointless.

I once read an article where Facebook was arguing that Google didn’t get social media because Google didn’t cater for what people actually cared about. Well, I don’t think people necessarily care about everything they may see or touch every day. And I don’t think people care about sharing everything and anything they may see or touch on the Internet either. In this path, I see Facebook losing their way: they are increasingly pushing what Facebook actually care about, if necessary to the detriment of what the user actually cares about, akin to the time when people started calling Google on their mantra of don’t be evil. Facebook and Google seem to be orbiting on opposite directions around the same object, it’s early to tell who is (or isn’t) converging towards that object of desire, but the shape or their trajectories appear similar to me. That would mean that one is getting it more and more, while the other may be missing it more and more.

The way things are going, notions like sharing, caring, friends, all of these things are losing their meaning on the Internet. These notions are naturally about being selective, automatic sharing isn’t selective because it lacks feelings. In our teenage years we want all the attention we can get, and that tend to be just a phase that we grow out of eventually. As we mature we tend to become more focused, hence increasingly selective about the things we do or say or share. The situations where we lose control of what we share can often become taxing experiences for us.

There now exist many sites that offer read later functionality. I’ve not been eagerly using any, but at least those services have a better alignment between user intention and the features that they are offering. But do we ever, in our large masses, want to grab attention all the time on all the things we do? I certainly don’t. I don’t think sharing should be automatic, unless we opt it to be for ourselves. This is why I think Facebook’s frictionless sharing is dumb.

Java is the new Cobol, of course. How else can it be? Enter Eclipse Xtend.

Eclipse Xtend may be a response to Jetbrain’s Kotlin, definitely making it plain that Java isn’t cutting it when it comes to programmer productivity.

I just saw an announcement of a new programming language from none other than the Eclipse group, you know of the Java IDE fame. A very quick scan of this new language, called Xtend, it looks like they’ve borrowed a bit from Groovy, something from Scala and maybe something from CoffeeScript. The fact that this language is directly supported by Eclipse IDE is a huge advantage, and that may be to the detriment of Scala which still hasn’t got a great IDE support yet. I think this move by Eclipse may also be a preemptive strike against JetBrain’s Kotlin. If the community picks up on this then I expect initiatives like Redhat’s upcoming Ceylon programming to struggle in gaining any foothold.

I’ve been wanting to write a post on how I thought Java just wasn’t good for programmer productivity, seeing this announcement encouraged me to finally post it. I did something with JBoss Seam a few months back, took a step back to look at the code and thought to myself what a waste!. I can’t believe anyone in 2011 would want to create new code using JSF for example, it simply feels wrong.

From the moment that I renewed my focus on functional languages, I find pure Java code to be an eyesore, the web tooling around Java are simply atrocious compared to what you can do with functional languages like Ruby, Clojure or Scala. Clojure way well be the most elegant of the lot, I like it so much that I’m increasingly considering doing more hacking than I’ve done in years.

Competition is a good thing. But I’m wondering if Xtend is a more of a Groovy clone and if that could be such a good thing for the wider programmer community. I haven’t written a single line of code with Xtend yet, this is just a spontaneous reaction, in fact a post I had drafted about Java as the new Cobol, but refreshed in the light of this announcement by Eclipse.