Interview: Dermot McCormack, EVP Digital Media, MTV Networks @ CES 2011

Can MTV.com do what many have tried (and failed) to do over the past decade-and-a-half — become the MTV of the internet? MTV Networks’ head of digital media told us that’s exactly what he’s set out to do in 2011. I spoke with EVP of MTV.com Dermot McCormack about iPads, Android tablets and the future of MTV digital and mobile programming at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

Originally posted at LAist.com

Gone: Application Tabs on Your Facebook Profile

Facebook application profile tabs gone

Last.fm, iLike, Networked Blogs, Causes and any of the hundreds of third-party apps you may have incorporated into your Facebook Profile page are no longer there. As I wrote about last month, Facebook’s customizable profile experiment was short-lived even if its demise took over a year.

Before this weekend, if you added approved third-party applications to your Facebook profile, many would have the option of adding to your wall or as a profile tab. The default selection would be to your Boxes tab. Today, even the Boxes tab is missing the apps that you used / played with / were annoyed by over the past couple years. From NY times Quiz, to How big of a Cubs fan are you?, To Myflickr, finetune, and everything else under the sun: Gone. Granted, the Boxes tab on my profile used to run on and on and pretty certain that nobody ever checked it out (myself included). Now the Boxes tab shows nothing more than I’m allowed to display on my profile tabs: the Facebook proprietary applications “Video” “Photos” and tabs for “Links” I share, “Notes” I write or import from this blog via RSS, Events, and Questions. The Boxes column is much narrower and ads have returned.

It’s been fun taking advantage of Facebook’s more open experiments over the past couple years but now our Facebook profiles have returned to their original states as rather vanilla bulletin boards.

That said, if I do want to customize my online profile and incorporate apps and even add raw html… there’s always Myspace!

Facebook Apps Soon to Vanish from Profile Tabs

It’s been a year since Facebook went public with a Developer roadmap which signalled a shift away from third-party app integration and increased importance on the Home Page news feed. Last October, the Facebook home page news feed went real-time, significantly altering the user experience to focus primarily on the Home Page, as opposed to profiles or third-party applications.

The latest platform change “coming soon” is a bigger blow to the personalization of the profile page. In the past months, we’ve seen all kinds of irritating warnings that Facebook would soon strip application Profile Boxes and to move these boxes to the tab bar. Now, these tabs are the next casualty.

Facebook app profile tab

This is unfortunate in that it limits not only the personalization of ones profile but also the effectiveness of calls-to-action that benefit from users adding custom tabs to profiles as if they were virtual lawn signs. I proudly display a “No on 23” tab in my profile (direct link), so friends and anyone else who lands on my profile page can learn more about an important proposition on the California ballot next Tuesday. It’s alongside two other tabs that are “soon” to be pulled by Facebook: Goodreads and Last.fm — services I use to track the books I read and music I listen to (respectively). I don’t care (or know) if many visitors to my profile even notice these tabs or take interest, however, it adds value as it’s an intricate part of getting to know me. Sure, books and artists that I have “liked” are listed in my profile, but there is nothing live or temporal about that data other than when (in real-time) I click like and it reverberates through my network via the news feed for 24 hours or so.

I’m betting that you also like the ability to integrate 3rd-party applications and services into your Facebook experience and as tabs or boxes on your profile page. Again this is not a sudden occurrence, we were warned a year ago, and more recently applications which depended almost exclusively on the Facebook Platform, such as Causes and Zimride, have gone entirely standalone.

Does Facebook have something in mind to replace this experience or do we just have to learn to accept a more dumbed-down, walled-in Facebook from here on out? What’s next for Facebook application campaigns based on profile tab proliferation, such as those created by PopRule and others?

Continue reading “Facebook Apps Soon to Vanish from Profile Tabs”

Facebook Questions: A Walled Garden of Echo Chambers

It feels like April Fools in July with the launch of Facebook’s inevitably anticipated Q&A service.

introducing facebook questions

facebook questions notifications galoreAges after every other internet portal and social network went ahead and entrapped the unfocused masses in endless loops of Q and A clickery, your Facebook news feed is probably popping with sophomoric questions right about now.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun — as in funny. I can’t take it seriously. And I’m going to have to make sure this April Fools joke comes to an abrupt end (as soon as somebody tells me how to opt out). Did I think twice before trying out questions? Well, I took a second to take the above screenshot, but then I dived right in. I wanna play! This is the most fun and interactive FB App since Mafia Wars! Look at all those notifications — mostly from people I don’t even know… yet!

But I really felt like I was doing this while trying not to fall asleep in 4th grade Language Arts class or something. ESPECIALLY when Facebook told me that I had to capitalize the first word [sic] of each sentence.

facebook questions tech blog walled garden
My answer was so dumb it was removed or voted off. So I had to answer another one!

Nice to see Facebook finally reaching out to its under-served high school (and younger) community and to provide some educational value while at it!

So now that I wrote this tongue-in-cheek blog post about Facebook’s latest feature, can I quit it?

Not before I ask.

facebook questions nmeta

Check out real Facebook + Media coverage of Q&A here, here, here, and here. I’ll come back to FB Questions if the API proves to really open up the platform and say, enable embedding of questions and polls on this here blog.

Facebook Apps on Profile and Red Ink

facebook ilike red tape inkApps like Cow Clicker would seem to be proof enough that the Facebook application marketplace is ridiculously oversaturated, but no — even Facebook itself can’t seem to keep up with the glut of apps old and new.

Every few weeks I come across a Facebook App on my profile, a page, or elsewhere, that is littered with red ink. The most popular splotch tends to be the warning that the iLike player (also known as the Facebook music player in spite of being acquired by MySpace last year) will soon disappear from your profile page. It’s said that for almost a year and… nothing.

A few months ago Facebook teased new Eventbrite integration — actually incorporating the Eventbrite payment system into the process of setting up a FB event, only to quietly pull the feature (which was functional at best) almost immediately. And the months go by…

causes app to leave profile box in august facebookNow it’s Causes, a platform that has grown with Facebook from the start. (Causes co-founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker apparently plays a prominent role in the forthcoming Facebook movie – Justin Timberlake plays the part.)

Whether or not the profile box really disappears in a couple weeks likely won’t upset anyone too much, however, the ugliness of the red tape over the badge (and the persistence of the iLike warning) ain’t pretty. And what’s with covering the actual cause campaign with a “Keep Causes on Your Profile” badge? It only instructs the user to add a tab. Essentially this means that eventually…. we might be looking at forced scarcity of apps that we can include on the main page of our profile. We’ll just have to wait and find out.

Have you seen other apps out there with similar “red tape” or red ink that never seem to go away?