"Facebook bought the thing that is hardest to fake. It bought sincerity." On Facebook Buying Instagram


Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 13:00 (6650/36) by capnasty

Great tongue-in-cheek article by New York Magazine's Paul Ford on why Instagram sold its soul to Facebook. And while I do get that some people are upset about it, I don't think anyone who would say no to $1 billion dollars.

First, to understand this deal it's important to understand Facebook. Unfortunately everything about Facebook defies logic. In terms of user experience (insider jargon: "UX"), Facebook is like an NYPD police van crashing into an IKEA, forever -- a chaotic mess of products designed to burrow into every facet of your life. The company is also technologically weird. For example, much of the code that runs the site is written in a horrible computer language called PHP, which stands for nothing you care about. Millions of websites are built with PHP, because it works and it's cheap to run, but PHP is a programming language like scrapple is a meat. Imagine eating two pounds of scrapple every day for the rest of your life -- that's what Facebook does, programming-wise. Which is just to say that Facebook has its own way of doing things that looks very suspect from the outside world -- but man, does it work.

Now consider Instagram. If Facebook is a sprawling, intertextual garden of forking pokes, Instagram is no more complex than a chapbook of poetry: It lets you share pictures with your friends and keep track of strangers who post interesting pictures. It barely has a website; all the action happens on mobile devices. Thirty million people use it to pass time in the bathroom. You can add some fairly silly filters to the photos to make the pictures look like they were taken in the seventies, but that's more of a novelty than a requirement. So that's Instagram. It's not a site, or an app. What it is, really, is a product.



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