Facebook Domination, Driving Distracted, and NASA TV

by Jon Follett

Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

Facebook Closes the Door on User Data
Facebook is racing to shore up the walls of its garden, in an attempt to keep Google+ and others from leveraging its social graph and contact data.

According to ZDNet, two weeks ago Facebook first blocked a Chrome extension that allowed users to export friends. And now Facebook has similarly shut down Open-XChange, a tool for assembling a combined contact list from services, including Facebook and LinkedIn, into a master address book.

Facebook's moves to aggressively prevent users from porting their social graph data from one service to another begs the question: Whose data is it anyway? From the Facebook side of things, the answer is clear: not yours.

Don't Read This and Drive
The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released a report on distracted driving, detailing the dangers of talking and texting while behind the wheel. The study derives its conclusions based on more than 350 scientific papers.

Online magazine Mashable, in a post reporting on the study, goes for the attention grabbing headline that "Up to 25% of Accidents are Associated with Gadgets". Sensationalist or not, it's obvious that people can't drive when they're focused on something else, especially digital communications. Who woulda thought?

For the space explorer in all of us, now there's an opportunity to live vicariously through NASA astronauts on missions. You can watch a live, high definition video feed from various NASA cameras online.

Of course, after the initial launch, space missions aren't all glamor; the video feed this morning featured an astronaut changing out a bulky piece of rack equipment. So, if you want to be assured of watching something good, check out the NASA TV schedule before tuning in.

Google vs. Facebook: The Social Web Overtakes the Document Web
All Things D, the Wall Street Journal's publication on digital news, features an interesting article on the increasing dominance of the social Web, written by Ben Elowitz, the Founder and CEO of Wetpaint.

The rise of Facebook, online video, and mobile has created an environment where people in the US are spending less and less time on the non-social, document based Web—where traffic has been largely controlled by search engines like Google. In its place, comes the connected, social Web where friends and contacts are more important, and Facebook holds sway. Elowitz argues that traffic coming to publishers from social networks like Facebook is stickier and perhaps more valuable since it's based on relationships and recommendations, rather than the pure transaction model of search. What this means for the future of our digital lives remains to be seen, but the landscape is changing and fast.

Netflix Excels at the Money Grab
On Tuesday, Netflix announced on their blog that they're creating two separate subscription lines for streaming movies and renting DVDs by mail. While, this change ostensibly gives consumers more choices, as Netflix has not offered a DVD only plan before, for those of us who enjoy both streaming movies and watching DVDs, the combo plans come with a hefty price hike. Gone is the entry-level $9.99 per month subscription for unlimited streaming and one DVD rental at a time. In its place is the streaming plan for $7.99 plus the basic DVD plan for $7.99. For both items, the total comes to $15.98, nearly a 60% price increase.

Judging by the comments on the Netflix blog, customers aren't too pleased with the new set up. This is the second time in as many months that Netflix has angered its customers with unfriendly changes to its service, the last time being in June when it rolled out a stomach churning re-design to its Web UI.

Topics: facebook, mobile web, Analysis, Blog, user data, google, netflix, NASA