Thursday, 17 January 2008


There are red flags up about Facebook (FB), recently demonised by the likes of Tom Hodgkinson for no good reason (a moral panic amidst worries for FB users' social welfare?), other than the G2 journo being disgruntled with FB as timesink for users, and a big moneyspinner for the 'geeks' who created it. But who's exploiting who? Seems to me that FB is becoming a major player in the global village experiment (e.g. I can play umpteen simultaneous games of 'Scrabulous' - an online version of popular word game Scrabble - with other FB users from around the world), and - as with FB applications in general - all we really have to put up with is sundry targeted adverts (which, like the animated banners on many other commercial sites, are easy to ignore).

The virtual community of FB is a good thing, relatively, and I don't view it as some malevolent commercial entity undermining our personal freedoms. Other businesses have played the 'connecting people' card in promoting their products, before, but without offering so much potential for mindless, distracting fun. Okay, FB and Scrabulous are potentially addictive... but neither compare to the genuinely destructive power of drugs or even alcohol, right..?

Now, corporate johnnies at Hasbro and Mattel have called for Scrabulous to be removed from FB, and fans of the online game are fearing the worst. I wonder how the lawyers have regarded Scrabulous' creators (brothers, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, based in Calcutta)? On FB, fans of both Scrabble and Scrabulous are wondering if their fun is about to end, or whether a licensing deal can be worked out. I suspect there will have to be a close-down of the Scrab online servers, even if that's just for re-branding purposes.

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