Watch Out, Facebook

Politicians are ready to regulate the online giant, but the company has much more to fear from the creative destruction of the marketplace.

Facebook thinks I'm into graffiti. A few weeks ago, when the social media network overhauled itself for the umpty-hundredth time, it transformed the information page in my profile into a list of links to "community pages"; now, rather than merely mentioning that I like Louis Armstrong and Repo Man, it directs readers to pages devoted to those subjects. When Facebook was unfamiliar with something listed on my page, its electronic engines made their best guess as to what I might mean. And so it was that the first item on my short list of interests—"writing"—was transformed into "graffiti."

I noticed this change and removed the item from the list, along with many other odd transmogrifications. Not every writer on Facebook did the same. One friend of mine, a Hopkins professor who contributes commentaries to NPR, was still listed as a graffiti artist when I submitted this article, a fact that might surprise any colleague who happens to read his profile.

Facebook's cavalier attitude toward its users' privacy has landed it in the hot seat: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called out the company as he demanded new "safeguards" against privacy violations, and several pressure groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing the enterprise of unfair and deceptive business practices. But the program's problems run much deeper than the privacy issue, manifesting itself in countless trivial but telling ways. Facebook depends on its users for its content, but it resists respecting the independence of those users and the diversity of their goals and preferences. The result is a strange halfbreed: a network that is mutable and egalitarian in some ways, rigid and high-handed in others.

The good news is that Facebook's deficiencies are not the sort of problems you need new legislation to fix. Other online businesses have made the same mistakes, and the marketplace punished them more severely than any regulator would have dared.

The trouble with Facebook's ever-evolving privacy policies is not that it shares users' data with others online. It's that it pushes users to share data that many would prefer not to share, and that it does this by constantly rejiggering its privacy settings in deliberately opaque ways. This, unfortunately, is typical behavior for Facebook, a company whose previous "upgrades" have involved:

• regularly refashioning every user's live feed—the constant stream of status updates and other information from your Facebook friends—in ways that disrupted users' habits, rather than simply offering users tools to revamp their feeds in whatever ways are most convenient for them;

• creating a pointless "news feed" that selects the status updates that Facebook, based on some arcane algorithm, thinks you will be most interested in seeing—and ensuring that the live feed will periodically revert to the news feed, whether or not you want it to do so;

• imposing odd limits on even the live feed, which users must go out of their way to alter, so that the Facebook algorithm again decides which updates are supposedly most interesting to the users; and

• the aforementioned transformation of the user profiles into a set of marketing-friendly links. One byproduct of this change was to eliminate any item unusual enough that Facebook fails to forecast it: If there's no preexisting page, it can't appear on your profile. Not unless you want to go through the trouble of creating the page yourself.

Meanwhile, here are some changes that Facebook has not seen fit to include in its upgrades:

• making it easy to navigate away from an older entry in your live feed without losing your place;

• making it easy to find old status updates of your own;

• preserving old status updates in the first place. Longtime Facebook users might find it instructive to scroll back through the last few months on their personal pages. As you go deeper into the past, you're apt to find entire conversations missing, words amputated from the ends of sentences, and other odd glitches.

In other words, Facebook is constantly trying to direct and standardize its users' experiences, as though everyone uses the site in the same way and for the same purposes; and at the same time, it has neglected smaller changes that would make it easier for users to shape and navigate Facebook for their own goals. The business press may be filled with rhetoric about "participatory media" and "user-generated content," but the country's most prominent Web 2.0 company treats its participants like a bunch of CompuServe subscribers circa 1994.

In the process, it has undermined what were supposed to be its selling points. A Facebook page was supposed to be preferable to other sorts of personal websites because it gave you greater control over who could or couldn't view the material you posted; now the company is infamous for running roughshod over users' privacy preferences. And one of the few limits on user freedom that sometimes seemed to work in users' favor—the uniform look of the personal profiles, a CC&R-style restriction that attracted people who disliked the garishness of so many MySpace pages—started to feel like a straightjacket the moment it meant you couldn't even list an unusual interest or an obscure book or movie.

Online social networks have risen and fallen before. Friendster is nearly forgotten (in the United States, at least), and MySpace has lost traction outside the music world. Facebook has been more successful than those predecessors, particularly at penetrating the post-collegiate market. But that doesn't mean it can't be displaced or forced to remake itself by a better network, something that might sell itself as Facebook without the bullshit.

There's a school of thought that says the inertia involved in leaving Facebook is too great for serious competition to emerge. The communications scholar Nancy Baym recently wrote that, for all her anger at Facebook's privacy policies, she isn't ready to leave yet, because the place provides "a platform through which I gain real value. I actually like the people I went to school with. I know that even if I write down all their email addresses, we are not going to stay in touch and recapture the recreated community we’ve built on Facebook. I like my colleagues who work elsewhere, and I know that we have mailing lists and Twitter, but I also know that without Facebook I won’t be in touch with their daily lives as I’ve been these last few years." The anthropologist danah boyd has cited Baym's comments as evidence that Facebook has become more than just another online diversion: It's on the verge, she writes, of becoming a monopolistic utility, and thus of requiring regulation.

Boyd has a history of writing intelligently about online social networks, but this time she's off base. What's striking about Baym's list of reasons for sticking with Facebook is how little they depend on Facebook itself. I can't speak for Baym, but I'm in a similar situation. There's nothing I do at Facebook that I can't do just as well, maybe better, with a blog, an email program, and a Flickr account—nothing, that is, except communicate quickly and easily with the other people on Facebook. That's the draw: not the system, not the apps, but the other users. And that's the variable that the company, try as it might, just can't control.

If anything, Facebook has made moving easier. When it transforms our quirky lists of interests into standardized lists of links or allows our old status updates to decay, it makes our profile pages into something less than well-tended gardens we wouldn't want to abandon. At any rate, once there's another place to congregate, it doesn't take too long for folks to move, tugging their photo albums and lists of interests and inane games of Mafia Wars behind them. So watch out, Facebook: You may be on top of the heap today, but you shouldn't assume that will last forever. The masses have abandoned immensely popular bars, bands, TV shows, and, yes, websites. Don't think for a moment that you're immune.

Managing Editor Jesse Walker is the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America (NYU Press).

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Tman||

    There was a fascinating interview with a Facebook Employee from Rumpus.net a few months ago.

    Conversations About the Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee

    This part, especially-

    Rumpus: You’ve previously mentioned a master password, which you no longer use.

    Employee: I’m not sure when exactly it was deprecated, but we did have a master password at one point where you could type in any user’s user ID, and then the password. I’m not going to give you the exact password, but with upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, all of the above, it spelled out ‘Chuck Norris,’ more or less. It was pretty fantastic.

    Rumpus: This was accessible by any Facebook employee?

    Employee: Technically, yes. But it was pretty much limited to the original engineers, who were basically the only people who knew about it. It wasn’t as if random people in Human Resources were using this password to log into profiles. It was made and designed for engineering reasons. But it was there, and any employee could find it if they knew where to look.

    I should also say that it was only available internally. If I were to log in from a high school or library, I couldn’t use it. You had to be in the Facebook office, using the Facebook ISP.

    Rumpus: Do you think Facebook employees ever abused the privilege of having universal access?

    Employee: I know it has happened in the past, because at least two people have been fired for it that I know of.

    Rumpus: What did they do?

    Employee: I know one of them went in and manipulated some other person’s data, changed their religious views or something like that. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but he got reported, got found out, got fired.
  • Paul||

    Facebook's cavalier attitude toward its users' privacy has landed it in the hot seat:

    Stop right there... a website, entirely peopled by "look at me!" types are upset about privacy.

  • Baff||

    Baff Likes This

  • ||

    *high five*

  • ed||

    I'm shocked at the rampant narcissism.
    Present company excluded, of course.

  • Seer||

    It's not entirely populated by those types. I use it primarily for easy communication.

  • The Internet||

    You have just won me. Be gentle.

  • ||

    It's the way pretty much everybody I know goes about planning parties and other gatherings. Nothing to do with "look at me" bullshit, at least not for most of the people in my circle. It's not even a particularly good tool for that goal. If you want to yell "look at me" you need to start a blog.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Seriously around 70% of the people I know are on Facebook. Crazy, right?

  • Paul||

    I know this is overly broad, but I live by a code:

    If you're not storing the data on your own computer, you don't own it.

    You may legally own it. And you may be protected by certain privacy laws, but you do not own it.

    What I mean by this is that laws change, politicians change, policies change, and what data you might have legally owned, or had previously protected, may one day no longer be legally owned, or enjoy privacy protections.

    Bottom line, you never know when a group of politicians with a (perceived) mandate will decide your data serves a "public purpose". This doesn't even begin to discuss your data being abused. Yes, the company or government abusing your data may be acting outside the law, but in the end, your data still got abused.

  • Seer||

    Social Networking like FB seems like an industry that would fall into natural monopoly. There are massive network benefits that a "Facebook without the bullshit" won't have, which is the main reason I still even have a Facebook. If I want a new webtool for social media I'd have to convince everyone I know to switch, regularly use it and then hope anyone I might meet in the future also uses it.

  • Paul||

    That's what FriensterMySpaceFacebook thinks.

  • ||

    Yep. Two years ago, pretty much everybody I kept track of on-line was on MySpace. Now nobody is except our band pages (which we only maintain for the sake of showing to booking managers).

    But part of why Facebook was able to steal away MySpace's monopoly was because there was a VERY large segment of Internet users who were not using any social network at the time that MySpace was king. As these (mostly post-college) users started getting on Facebook, it created a credible competitor to MySpace.

    Is there a new market vacuum that somebody could move into to challenge Facebook? Yes. Smartphone users who don't have a Facebook page. If somebody is quick enough and smart enough to build a social network (like a bigger Twitter) that hooks these people in, they will balloon up as the smartphone market continues to grow.

  • Paul||

    I would actually argue that social networking like facebook eschews a monopoly.

    Seriously, who were the primary users of MySpace: Young fad-oriented hipsters. There isn't a more fickle group of people on the planet. The Next Hip Thing(tm) that comes out, facebook will bleed users like a stuck pig.

  • ||

    The Next Hip Thing(tm) that comes out, facebook will bleed users like a stuck pig.

    I am going to love watching twitter die. Does anyone outside of journalism and government bureaucracies ever use this for anything productive?

    Note: I understand bureaucrats do not use it to be productive. But that is like saying they do not use the copy machine to be productive.

  • Butts Wagner||

    I am going to love watching twitter die. Does anyone outside of journalism and government bureaucracies ever use this for anything productive?

    Lindsay Lohan?

  • Lindsay Lohan||

    @allmyfans Im on teh toilet again! I

  • seanrude||

    I use Twitter all day, every day, in order to ... Oh productive use? No, no I do not

  • ||

    I think FB is already beginning a slow decline, a la Myspace. As soon as everyone's middle aged bosses, lame parents, and obnoxious adolescent cousins got on, it lost major cache. Not to say I'm not still on it a lot, but as soon as something newer and cooler comes out, I can see the young, hip, early-adopter types migrating quickly.

  • ||

    "As soon as everyone's middle aged bosses, lame parents, and obnoxious adolescent cousins got on,"

    Dagny have you been hacking into my account?

  • ||

    No, but I have. Dagny is a very inattentive Mommy!

  • ||

    Listen, Jr., I have neither the time nor the inclination to monitor your online escapades. And, given your genealogy, some exposure to hardcore pornography would probably have a moderating effect on you.

  • ||

    Yes. And enough status updates about your crafting hobby/kitties/embarrassing details about your love life, ok?

  • ||

    Don't you want to hear about my virtual farm, my two year old's potty training, and my visit to the doctor about that rash? Come on Dagny, you are no fun?

  • Facebook||

    You know, maybe I am not such a good idea after all.

  • The Gobbler||

    The kids mostly text these days. It's much more mobile.

  • Paul||

    I'm not hip to social networking, but uhh, can't you update your facebook page via text?

    And now that all the young people have internet enabled iPhones with pink cases and tasteful blonde highlights, don't they update facebook with some kind of app, remotely?

  • The Gobbler||

    They can, but the kids I know don't really do it that much. They like the immediacy of texting.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    As a college student (for the next 4 days!) I have to agree with this. Over the past year more and more of my peers (including myself) have parents that are on FaceBook. It's a big buzzkill, and I've noticed less and less interest.

  • 29InNet||

    Stan, poke your grandma...

  • ||

    Fyi 40% of facebook users are over age 35. Not really fitting your argument.
    If anything the abundance of older users will be what drives younger people away. The way to topple facebook isn't to try to take its users away, but to target teenagers to get them on a social network that isn't their parents network.

  • ||

    You are correct that it's a natural monopoly, because networking with other users is the main value of the site and therefore the network that "everybody" uses is by far the most valuable. But here's the thing, Seer.

    It takes very little effort to maintain accounts on more than one social network.

    So if somebody invents a "Facebook without the bullshit", and five of my friends are suddenly spending most of their time on it, and I want to keep track of those friends, I'll join as well. I won't delete my Facebook account, but rather I'll divide my attention between this two. Once this new Facebook-Killer site has MOST of the people on it MOST of the time, then the monopoly will start to shift and people will ignore Facebook in favor of this new thing.

    That's pretty much exactly what I went through with the shift from MySpace to Facebook.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    And incidentally how all "natural monopolies" work when they start operating in ways that make their customers unhappy. This is precisely why they don't really qualify as monopolies in the dangerous sense and no one should really be that concerned about them.

    Facebook, of all things is all kinds of a "who gives a shit?" thing anyway... I mean, geesh... Even if Facebook was a "monopoly", it's not exactly an essential human need, is it?

    This is something I've tried to explain to Chony in the past with absolutely no luck.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    I agree with Tara, FB is probably already a dead site walking but just doesn't know it.

    If I had to guess, I'd put money on the next social networking "thing" to be based on some sort of open standards. That means that all sorts of smaller site operators could run simple open source software for small subsets of users.

    Because the software has open standards, you could use the model train network as your home network but still keep in touch with friends who are on the libertarian network. The open standards would allow you to cross connect on basic things.

    Everything else on the internet has devolved from a central server running proprietary applications to a decentralized group of servers running free open source apps.

  • ||

    As soon as somebody figures out a way to make money off that approach (or at least convince a bunch of speculative investors that they know how to make money off it), then it will certainly happen.

  • ||

    You mean like this?:

    http://tinyurl.com/25um84y

  • The Gobbler||

    Re: Defending the Project of Free Inquiry:

    The Gobbler|5.19.10 @ 3:11PM|#
    "Note: Due to past experience and the limitations of managerial time, comments on this post are closed."

    We had to censor the speech in order to free it.

  • ||

    Schweet.

  • The Gobbler||

    Thomas Sowell Referencing on of RC's Iron Laws

    One of the many shallow statements that sound good — if you don’t stop and think about them — is that “at some point, you have made enough money.”

    The key word in this statement, made recently by Pres. Barack Obama, is “you.” There is nothing wrong with my deciding how much money is enough for me or your deciding how much money is enough for you, but when politicians think that they should be deciding how much money is enough for other people, that is starting down a very slippery slope....

    Once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented, you are putting your own rights in jeopardy — quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody’s rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can’t tell the water where to go.

    http://article.nationalreview......mas-sowell

  • ||

    Thomas Sowell bitching about arbitrary abuses of power is about like Captain Renault bitching about gambling in this establishment.

  • Paul||

    Point taken.

  • The Gobbler||

    How so?

  • ||

    He's been an apologist for some of the worst of the Bush-era abuses imaginable, viz his off-the-cuff sneering at the conditions at Gitmo, his asinine belief that we can't try terrorists in regular courts, and on and on. He's not really in favor of limited government, despite his ability to spell the surname "Hayek".

  • qwerty||

    Self-defense against terrorists isn't an arbitrary abuse of power.

  • barfman||

    *barf* presuming *barf* guilt *barf* is *barf*

  • affenkopf||

    Since the other post is closed I'll just spam my comment here:

    As Tim Cavanaugh aptly put it later, most readers would have looked at the images, "which are at about the artistic level of Asterix,"

    Fuck you Tim Cavanaugh for not recognizing the greatness that is Albert Uderzo's art.

  • ||

    If the Church of Scientology tomorrow declared all depictions of L. Ron Hubbard verboten, and backed up the prohibition with just enough car-burning and death-threats to keep people on their toes, would the L.A. Times and 99 percent of American newspapers comply with the command?

    I don't see why not.

    [This comment is a refugee from the Free Inquiry non-thread.]

  • affenkopf||

    Can someone fill me in on what happened yesterday in the other mohammed thread to provoke such a strong reaction from reason staff?

  • The Gobbler||

    As discussed in today's Morning Links:

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/05.....nt_1713028

  • affenkopf||

    Thanks.

    That was it? A bad 'Mohammed sucks dick' joke? Wow, reason are a buch of pussies.

  • ||

    I just left a comment there and it seems to be working again.

  • affenkopf||

    Nope, you can comment but all comments are deleted within a few minutes.

  • ||

    I see that now. A couple of weeks ago Welch called every religious text in human history "retarded". And got on the comment thread reaffirming that he meant just that. But now he deletes comments that might offend Muslims.

  • John's #1 Fan||

    That was a Tim Cavanaugh post, and you had one of your legendary debates with Jennifer on that thread!

  • ||

    Ah hell. My mistake. None the less Reason will publish that but then delete anything in the comments that might offend Muslims.

    Fuck them. Lets just have the discussion on other threads. What are they going to do, delete every comment about Mohammad?

  • Baff||

  • affenkopf||

    Great idea.

    btw. muhammed (pbuh) was a pedophile, genocidal maniac.

  • ||

    And freely admitted many of his teachings were inspired by Satan. Those versus latter had to be taken out of the Quaran. Hard to tell if it is Satan or God talking to you.

  • The Gobbler||

    Don't you know there ain't no devil,
    There's just God when he's drunk.

    - Tom Waits

  • The Gobbler||

    To his credit, he didn't do little boys.

  • ||

    That we know of. Not that I know anything for sure. I'm just asking questions.

  • The Prophet Muhammed||

    Careful infidel! Reason may censor your sensibilities (with my full blessing. Damn, I'm good!)

  • SIV||

    So that Muslims like to fuck little boys stuff is really just Afghani and Pakistani secular culture?

    "For children a wife
    For pleasure a boy
    For ecstasy a goat"
    is in the Koran/Quran.
    Is that something Mohamed wrote or the divinely-inspired true word of no-God-but ALLAH?

  • ||

    If you are interested, you can always comment on the Free Inquiry story on Facebook.

  • affenkopf||

    I see what you did there.

  • Tom from MySpace||

    Fuck Facebook in the Face!

  • MNG||

    Now this is the kind of measured discourse that I tune into regularly around here for!

  • ||

    I prefer to fuck it in the Book, but I won't judge.

  • BoobGuy||

    I like to get it between the o's.

  • ||

    Bookdoor Man.

  • T||

    Don't want Facebook to give away all of your personal information? Don't put it on Facebook. Easy peasy, kids. Facebook has very little of my info because I know whatever info I put on the net stays there forever and is susceptible to misuse by whoever gets it. If you don't want Facebook or anybody else slinging the details of your life around at near-light speed, don't give the details up in the first place. Duh.

    And my refugee comment: Kindly Inquisitors is a fantastic book for anybody who gives a damn about freedom of expression.

  • The Gobbler||

    I am amazed at friends who post that things like "Only three more days until our Mexico (come rob our house while we're down there)"

  • T||

    I'm always amazed at people who give FB their phone numbers. I know people with 500+ 'friends'. You want everyone of them to be able to call you? Why?

  • Paul||

    When they come home from their trip, and find hanging wires where the stereo once was, they call Chuck Schumer's office and bitch about Facebook's lack of privacy.

  • The Gobbler||

    That's the role of government. Overreaching.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    I'm stunned by how many Happy Birthday messages I get each year on January 1st because that is what I told FB it was. Oh and I changed my year by 25+ years.

  • ||

    People who ask me if i have a facebook page are the poeple i throw away.

    Phone numbers, email addresses...I even try to forget their names.

    I am now going to stop reading any articles by the person who wrote this piece simply because i now know he/she/it has a facebook page.

  • ||

    Facebook's privacy bullshit is unimportant to me, because as T said, I am in control of what I put up there. What really interests me is how they keep getting investment money yet still can't come up with a way to truly monetize what they have. I think they finally made a profit like last year, but how much in the hole (in terms of invested money) are they already? Isn't it something like $300 million?

  • ||

    I don't get why people are so upset either. It is pretty much public anyway.

  • ||

    "You should be like Calvin. His best friend was a tiger, he always went on dope adventures, and if anything stood in his way, he just peed on it."

  • MNG||

    I remember reading Calvin and Hobbes. Did he ever pee on something like you see on all those redneck's cars? How did all that come about?

  • ||

    I don't know. I hate those stickers. You might as well just put up a sign that says "I am a no class moron".

  • ||

    Someone created that image and it became extremely popular with morons.

  • The Gobbler||

    That's why you never see a picture of Muhammad peeing on things. The fear is that it would go viral. BTW, I hear he pissed on everything.

  • ||

    Muhammad golden shower porn. Get on that immediately, Gobbler. Given your handle, you might want to work in some other activity too- I'll leave that up to you.

  • The Gobbler||

    I gobble up resources. And yes, piss is a resource (great fertilizer), but I don't use it.

  • ||

    You know, I bet the guy who started that made very little cash. It's not like you can claim much copyright or trademark protection when you're knocking off someone else.

  • The Gobbler||

    I have several C&H books and no, he never peed on anything that I can recall.

  • ||

    Wiki

    Except for the books, two 16-month calendars (1988–1989 and 1989–1990), Teaching with Calvin and Hobbes,[6] and one T-shirt for a traveling art exhibit on comics, virtually all Calvin and Hobbes merchandise, including T-shirts as well as the ubiquitous stickers for automobile rear windows which depict Calvin urinating on a company's or sports team's name or logo, is unauthorized. As Watterson pointed out during the notes of one of the collection books, the original image was of Calvin filling up a water balloon from a faucet. After threat of a lawsuit alleging infringement of copyright and trademark, some of the sticker makers replaced Calvin with a different boy, while other makers ignored the issue.[citation needed] Watterson wryly commented, "I clearly miscalculated how popular it would be to show Calvin urinating on a Ford logo."[18] Some legitimate special items were produced, such as promotional packages to sell the strip to newspapers, but these were never sold outright.
  • MNG||

    But you have to wonder, why the f*ck a figure from a moderately high brow comic strip? I wonder how many people with that sticker have ever read a C&H strip.

    And have you seen the ones of Calvin venerating the Cross?

  • Paul||

    All the time. Honda Civic's, dude.

  • ||

    NO and that is fucked up.

  • Jesus the Christ||

    I KILL YOU!!!

  • ||

    Yes, the Cross Calvin is weird. Really, what the hell does that have to do with anything? Is kneeling before a cross the opposite of peeing on things?

  • Jesus the Christ||

    Oops, I read that as "denigrating" the cross. I regret the error.

  • Butts Wagner||

    wait for it....... and voila!

  • Jesus the Christ||

    I KILL YOU!!!

  • Paul||

    It's so easy to make your own Vinyl stickers. The Genie's out of the bottle.

  • Paul||

    Which reminds me about the Treasury Department's fear about modern counterfeiting:

    It wasn't the sole counterfeiter producing $1,000,000 in fake bills that worried them, it was 1,000,000 amateurs producing a $1 bill.

  • ||

    Bill's commitment to his art is intimidating. He gave up a hundred million or more, likely.

  • Paul||

    Rednecks? Where do you live? It's all the southeast Asian kids driving Honda Civics.

  • ||

    It is still popular with rednecks, not even Truck Nuts could stomp it out.

  • Paul||

    Truck Nutz! Should be the symbol of the Tea Party!

  • ||

    Awesome. They could carry them on pikes and a dip them in affirmative during protests.

  • ||

    I like that to, especially if they are held by a large number of people in front of a congress critter's office. Can you imagine walking out of your office to an angry mob toting pikes with scrotums stuck on the end of them? That takes the fun out of serving in Congress.

  • ||

    No. Ramming a sharp stick through the scrotum of Americans and setting it on fire reminds me why I wanted this job in the first place.

  • Yosemite Sam||

    Back off, ya mangy varmits! If it wasn't for me and them sexy mirror broads, Calvin and Hobbes would never been so poplar!

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I hates me some tigers and brats! (blam blam!)

  • D-FENS||

    I was looking for the Truck Nutz reference, thanks!

  • Hugh Akston||

    You know what I just noticed about Truck Nutz? They don't have any hair.

    I always assumed the guys who buy those things were insecure identity-impaired assholes who bought trucks to show the rest of suburbia how fuckin' tuff they were, not preening metrosexuals who spend half the weekend in the bathroom shaving with HGTV on in the background.

  • ||

    No. It's a twist on an old graphic involving babies peeing on things. I had a shirt of an orange-and-blue-clad baby urinating on Athens, Georgia when I was at UF in the 80s. Not Calvin.

    For my 40th, I got The Complete Calvin & Hobbes. Friggin' awesome, and no peeing.

  • ||

    It seemed funny at the time, but I agree that the whole meme is stupid.

  • Tattoo Artist||

    So many things do seem funny at the time.

  • ||

    Yes, at least I had more sense than that. Tattoos were barely acceptable back then (except for hookers, bikers, sailors, and rock stars), unlike today, when they seem to be mandatory.

  • Paul||

    In Seattle, I can't go sleeveless, I'm the only one without a tattoo and I feel self conscious about it.

  • ||

    Tell them you got an exact tattoo of your skin. They'll be impressed by your irony.

  • ||

    True! I was just in Vegas, and it was even worse there. Being untattooed was worse than being naked, and it was a freaking topless pool.

  • ||

    Any tattoo above about an inch in size makes a woman look like a skank. You are better off Dagny. And everyone had a tattoo? Where the hell did you stay? Vic's Vegas World?

  • ||

    We stayed at the Flamingo, which was a step up from the Luxor, but even so tramp stamps and tribal armbands abounded.

  • ||

    Arriving naked at a topless pool is so nekulturny.

  • Pip||

    Time, is the best comedian EVER!

  • Ragin Cajun||

    Well, there was that one incident with the monster under the bed, and the bushes outside the window.

  • ||

    I don't think there was an actual panel of him peeing. Calivin talking about having to go pee with Hobbes, being too scared to get up and use the bathroom, then his parents wondering why all the bushes outside Calvin's window were dying.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    You mean you've never seen "The Complete UNRATED Calvin & Hobbes: The Cartoonist's Cut"?

  • melman||

    "I remember reading Calvin and Hobbes. Did he ever pee on something like you see on all those redneck's cars?"

    no, of course not

  • Apologetic California||

    tl; dr. Dislike.

  • ||

    What no one appreciates is that Calvin is a potent weapon in the most crucial and defining event in the history of the human race: The Great Ford/Chevy Truck Debate.

  • ||

    You know, we really need Calvin back. Bill, come out of retirement and save man--and tiger--kind!

  • ||

    No way. He had run out of ideas. It would never be as good as you remmeber the original if for no other reason than that you are older now and harder to please. Leave it alone.

    I used to bemoan the retirement of Gary Larson. A couple of years ago I bought the leather bound Complete Far Side. In it Larson talks about how he was losing his fast ball and wanted to get out on top. And as I looked at the last couple of dozen or so panels he did, I had to admit they really were not that good and some of them were terribly lame. It made me glad Larson quit when he did.

    It is the same thing with Waterson. Don't make him suffer the face of Bretherd or Shultz.

  • ||

    Yeah, probably true enough. But he was great. The greatest in my opinion.

  • Pip||

    Better than Garfield???

  • ||

    The best Garfield I ever saw was in a Harvard Lampoon book. Jon went looking for Garfield and found his bones in a recently baked lasagna.

  • Nermal||

    Don't look at me! Aren't I cute?

  • ||

    Have you ever seen where they take Garfield and delete all of the cat's comments? It makes them actually pretty funny and very surreal.

  • DenverWill||

    Or Garfield Minus Garfield, where they take the cat out completely. It's among humanity's greatest accomplishments.

    (I'd link to it, but the spam filter has twice rejected it.)

  • TheNino85||

    Or Realfield, where they replace Garfield with a normal looking cat (who is also mute.) Jon seems even crazier when talking to a normal cat than he does when he's talking to himself.

  • T||

    Yup. There's only so long you can run with your original idea before it becomes tired. Don't get me wrong, you can make a mint flogging the same dead horse. Just ask Jim Davis. But if you're in the game because you want to write and draw, you have different motivations than if you're a business major who found an easier and more lucrative gig than working for the phone company.

    For a good example, look at old Charlie Brown and compare it to anything Shulz did in his last 20 years. You weren't gonna see "Good ole Charlie Brown. How I hate him!" in the last 20. Shulz in his day was a master of the art, but he got trapped by his own success.

  • ||

    I would respectfully disagree. I think the strips in Its a Magical World are some of the best that Watterson ever did. He might have been running out of ideas but it never showed in anything that was published.

  • ||

    That doesn't mean he didn't know when to leave.

  • ||

    I don't know what it is about this thread, but I really have to go take a long, complicated whizz. I've got a real bowl-filler brewing. The kind of piss that flushes itself.

  • Pip||

    Do you want me to go with you?

  • Mrs. SugarFree||

    That's my job, Pip. He uses my tongue as golden shower test strip. Kills two birds with one stone.

  • ||

    Is this "Facebook" thingee popular with the cool kids?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Not for long.

  • ||

    danah boyd. Really?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I am actually interested in the other kind of writing, but I don't want my internet profile pointing that out.

  • JazzPiano (Jamie Kelly)||

    Your greatest sin is liking Louis Armstrong.

  • ||

    This guy, a write for Reason, a Libertarin mag just seriously went off about Facebook and privacty? I was duped...I expect to read about the idiocy of regulating or even talking about regulating of social networking sites such as Facebook.

    I regret reading that. Privacy? You have no privacy on the internet. The internet is the wild west. It's the den of thieves. It's the badlands. To assume regulations and privacy controls is to be the bastard half-breed of Ms. Naive and Mr. Ignorant.

    You gave Facebook your information. You know it was started by college kids. You know you aren't charged and the only way they can keep the service up is to sell YOUR INFORMATION. And if you don't know that...well...maybe you aren't a grown up.

    cl

  • NotSoHappy||

    In some ways, privacy itself isn't the issue, it is facebook's system of continuously and arbitrarily changing the data it collect and/or shares.

    If the privacy policy was clear, I could choose what level of privacy I wish to have - or not have. But it is tiresome to keep on having to check to see what new nonsense facebook has inflicted upon me and what needs to be done to maintain my desired level of privacy.

    So, facebook has lost me as a user. My account isn't deleted yet, because I haven't found anything to encourage my friends to move to. But once that exists, I will move. And I'll drag as many of my friends as I can, and ask them to bring their friends too.

  • ||

    what part of this article has anything at all to do with "creative destruction"? the project on kickstarter which has raised 175K to date as an FB alternative didn't even get a mention.

  • ||

    Well, there was that one incident with the monster under the bed, and the bushes outside the window.See this collection of funny Facebook Status .

  • ||

    Facebook will rule the world!
    Photography Poses

  • sbobet||

    You comment?

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