don't go changin'

Did you miss me? We’re back from our little summer recess, with a couple of new features on the site: our latest del.icio.us bookmarks, the latest book trade news from Book2Book, and the latest comments and trackbacks from readers. So now there will always be something new to read on the site. There’s also a little tally of how many of you are following us on Twitter or subscribing to our RSS feed (thanks for signing up!)
Just a few small changes. Nothing too unsettling. Nothing that warrants a re-brand to New Publishing Talk, or Publishing Talk 2.0. But what about the real social media change this summer? Facebook fans will have noticed the move to ‘New Facebook’ (www.new.facebook.com). Having initially run the two alternative layouts in parrallel, New Facebook is now the only show in town.
People don’t like change. When you’ve integrated Facebook into your social life, a major change can feel like someone redecorating your front room while you’re out without asking you, like a crack squad of home makeover guerillas.  New Facebook has provoked the sort of revolt and fury that social networkers are so good at.
By my reckoning, there are currently around 450 Facebook groups along the lines of “New Facebook Sucks” – and just five in favour. Many groups are protesting at New Facebook being a stalker’s charter. (Why? Why any more than Old Facebook? Have you seen the privacy controls?) Major high street banks have changed their policies over lesser protests.
Call me a contrarian, but I quite like the new layout. I couldn’t bear the clutter of the old Facebook. I like:

  • the focus on the news feed: mixing up the mini feed with wall posts and status updates in chronological order
  • being able to comment on just about anything, and having little conversations about posted items etc.
  • having a little biog under my profile pic
  • having a list of my ‘basic info’ and websites under this.

I don’t like:

  • the chat feature – so switched it off
  • losing some of the Apps from my profile – though the cleaner design outweighs this for me.

I also don’t mind the extra prominence given to ads, because you can ‘digg’ or ‘bury’ them to make them more relevant (and what do you think pays for Facebook?)
But I know from friends’ status updates, as well as from the proliferation of anti New Facebook groups, that this is a minority view.
So who is responsible for the new look? Earlier this month, Robert Scoble interviewed Mark Slee, lead project manager at Facebook, whose team redesigned the site. It’s an interesting insight, and you also get a rare glimpse of the skateboarding, speed-chessing tech geeks in their natural environment at Facebook Towers.
But what do you think? Do you love it or hate it? Does it make any difference to you (good or bad) as a publisher or author? Let us know.

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Jon Reed

Jon Reed is a content writer, author, screenwriter, lecturer, blogger - and the founder of Publishing Talk. He was previously a publisher for 10 years. Publishing Talk aims to help new and emerging authors write, publish and sell books. Advice is available via the blog and our masterclasses and membership programme. More...