Defending Facebook's excitement over its new (obsolete) video-chat service

ITworld blogger gives FB video insufficient kudos

Peter Smith, sorry to dis a colleague, but yes, being disappointed and surprised that the surprise announcement Facebook pre-hyped last week turned out to be circa-2005 video chat, yes, you are hopelessly out of touch.

True, video chat has been old since people started feeling icky about having to IM with people they don't really like anyway, while exposing how they look when not prepared to be viewed by the public and squinting at a dark, fuzzy screen where the colleague seems to be moving around in ways not commensurate with a public video meeting.

[Also see: Do you really want to SEE your Facebook friends? Users react]

Yes, millions prefer text chat even to voice chat, because they don't have to be all synchronous with a lot of people who apparently never sleep and want to start long conversations while the rest of us are indulging in the occasional cat nap or nip of chemical recreation (which mostly means, at this point, the kind of vitamins and nutritional supplements that can make you sound just as stupid as the good stuff, especially the "Gaaaaahh" after you try to chug a mug of guaranteed, brain-boosting, pro-hormonal lean muscle growth powder that gives you the rush of 'roid rage and mellow lack of a sense of anticipation that will let you enjoy it. Though obviously beneficial, most of that stuff tastes like the high-fiber version of the kind of sun tea often capped in two-liter bottles tossed by the side of the highway by truckers who don't have time for a rest stop.)

And yes, many of us avoid the whole thing by pretending the mics we need for Skype of audio chat disappeared with teenage nephew the COD addict, and that the webcam on the laptop never worked (despite all the effort we put into finding a really good quality bit of electrical tape to put over it after doing a story about that high school that used student webcams to spy on teenagers making out.

But Facebook! Facebook is a place designed for those with no sense of privacy, propriety or boundaries between their friends or professional colleagues and the twists their psyches undergo in the process of changing out of work clothes and into underwear or jammies they just leave on for days while compulsively Liking things and trying to video chat one random Friend after another.

I'm frankly surprised someone as in touch with personal tech and social networking as you, Peter, would be surprised Facebook wants to get into video chat and that their execs are still so impressed at being able to see their faces on screen that other people in the FB offices often send them down to the convenience store on the corner so they can watch themselves on the security monitor buying a pack of gum.

You are right that FB sounded a little too impressed with itself about the fake-anticipation-building part of the announcement, considering it's only video chat.

On the other hand, you also have to understand just how famous FaceBook (and therefore everyone connected to it) is.

Somebody made a movie about it!

There were actual stars in it.

The stars got to go on David Letterman and Saturday Night live.

The movie was so famous FB founder Mark Zuckerberg went on Saturday Night Live for a hilarious cameo/skit in which he stood around looking more wooden than a cigar-store Indian but far more uncomfortable looking.

It was so rad!

People at FaceBook have been way too busy paying attention to the movie and to their own perception of their growing fame to follow what people are doing online and how to become a part of it.

So they made video chat, which you, specifically, would have been thrilled to see from them at any other time (that was earlier than four or five years ago).

You need to get off this negative angle, Peter, and give these innovators a break.

Not every innovation has to be completely new, you know. Sometimes doing something late and wrong is just as good as doing it well at a time it actually mattered.

Just let Facebook be Facebook and you be you. Actually, a lot of people will be you, because I know you store all your personal financial information (generously) in Facebook where a lot of people can sample it to go be you for the amount of time it takes to buy something nice for themselves using your credit card.

And take it easy on the Zuck. Billionaires have it rough, too. Especially when they have to have video chats while looking as much like Zuckerberg as Zuckerberg does.

Annoying as it was (especially the part about wearing only clothes Zuckerberg himself had actually worn), Jesse Eisenberg was way less annoying in the movie than Zuckerberg is in real life, or on TV.

So give them a break, eh? (But keep that bit of black tape over the lens of your webcam.)

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