John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Can you tell 'live' from 'news'? Facebook can't
Yesterday, it appears, Facebook put into effect a redesigned home page for members, with a “live feed” and a “news feed.” It seems to be the case that the “news feed” will include items that Facebook has concluded would be of interest to me, while the “live feed” will list all my friends’ activities.
How do I know this? From an article on the changeover in PCMAG.com, which Jack Mulkey thoughtfully put up on his news feed. Facebook gave me no information. Or perhaps Facebook did publish some announcement to readers; but it was not anywhere that I saw, and Facebook is so chaotically organized and its search function so pathetically useless that I probably could not have found the announcement had I known to look for it.
These are the consequences of the double feed. I have to look in two places to make sure that I haven’t missed anything. And since the “live” and “news” categories have some obvious overlap, I get to see some of the same posts in two different places. Oh yeah, and the chronology is all gummed up, with my news feeds listed in this order: an hour ago, 6:27 p.m. yesterday, 11:37 p.m. yesterday, 11 hours ago, 4 hours ago [emphasis added].
When I see Internet enthusiasts scorn newspapers for their arbitrary redesigns that disconcert readers, for their lack of transparency in informing their audience what they are doing, or for their ineptly designed Web sites that make navigation troublesome, I think of Facebook and curl my lip in bitter scorn.