Declaring Bankruptcy

Facebook_request_roll
I’ve done that a few times on this blog, both times related to email overload. It’s a dangerous thing to do. Bankruptcy is a loaded work, particularly coming from someone who’s in the money business. The media loves to run a headline with the word bankruptcy in it. I still get pinged by journalists wanting to talk to me about "email bankruptcy", a term I did not coin, and I’ve been working hard to distance myself from.

So it was with mixed feelings that I read Jason Calacanis’ post declaring Facebook bankruptcy. Jason’s as media savvy as they come, particularly new media. So he knows exactly what he’s doing with that post. He’s drawing attention to the problems with Facebook that have gotten glossed over as the techcrunch 50,000 have fallen in love with Facebook in the wake of the opening up of the service.

And I share Jason’s frustration with Facebook. It’s just not my world. The web is my world. Blogs are my world. Flickr is my world. Twitter is my world. Facebook aggregates all of those features, wraps a social network around it, and provides a turnkey solution. It’s better in many ways. But when you make it easy, you get overload. And that’s what Jason is facing. And that’s what I am facing.

Jason put a picture of his Facebook request roll on his post. So I’ll do the same. It’s nutty. I manage my requests daily. And yet I’ve got 182 unanswered requests. It’s as bad as my email inbox, but at least my inbox has good stuff in it along with the crap. The ratio of good stuff to junk is a lot worse in Facebook, at least so far.

But here’s where I differ from Jason. I’m not giving up. Because I think Facebook’s an important phenomenon, maybe as important as Google over time. That’s a big maybe, but you have to pay attention to maybes.

There’s also the issue that all of us who have been building and/or investing in web apps for the past 10 years are facing. Do we have to learn a new bag of tricks? Does Facebook mean all that work we’ve done on the web is suddenly worth a lot less and we need to retool our work for Facebook? I bet that is part of what is bugging Jason. He’s building a new search service, people powered search, on the web at Mahalo.com. Does he need to scrap that and build it at http://apps.facebook.com/mahalo/? I think the answer is no, but he sure better figure out how to let Facebook users access Mahalo from within Facebook and also how to tap Facebook users to build new serps on Mahalo.

Giving up is not the answer. As much as it feels good. Our mutual friend Tom Watson has some words of wisdom for Jason. Get through the bankruptcy Jason and come out the other side with a clean balance sheet and give Facebook another shot. It’s going to be worth it at some point.

Jason has also closed comments on his blog. I’ve said my piece on that before too. That’s not the right answer. Take some time off from blogging Jason. It’s exhausting. Blogging and running a company at the same time is a ton of work. You might need a vacation from blogging. You certainly can’t take a vacation from Mahalo.