To be, or not to beExistential Impacts of Facebook Status 'is'

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Facebook: so marvelously designed, so magnificently conceived, so amazingly successful... and yet... peppered with irritants. And one of them is, well, is.

As in, "Rob Cottingham is fed up with having to start every status line with 'Rob Cottingham is...'."

That little two-wordletter verb has drawn fire on Facebook for some time. The Facebook group "Campaign to lose the mandatory 'is' from status updates" now boasts more than 64,000 members.

Well, the tyranny of Ism will soon be naught but a dimly-remembered nightmare. At least, that's what I predict given today's update to Facebook developers:

Starting with tonight's push, any API calls that return information about users' status messages, including FQL and users.getInfo, will be changing slightly. The return value will now start with a verb, so prepending "is " is no longer required. So in order to construct a full status message it is now $name + ' ' + $message, instead of $name + ' is ' + $message. Additionally, users.setStatus will be able to avoid prepending the word "is " by passing in an additional parameter: "status_includes_verb". If you pass in true for that parameter, it signals to us that we should *not* prepend the word "is " to the status you give us. In a few, we will delete that parameter and change the default behavior to be that you must include your own verb.

In short, before too much longer, Facebook will require applications to give status messages their own verb... one that won't necessarily be "is". In fact, it won't necessarily be an inflection of the verb "to be". Hell, applications aren't even going to be limited to the present tense.

Yes, I know: Room... spinning. Must... sit... down.

But the upshot is that applications won't have to use "is" when they compose status messages. And that makes it a pretty safe bet that, in the not-too-distant future, you won't, either.


Jason Landry says

November 20, 2007 - 3:27pm
I'm crossing my fingers... oops, I mean... Jason is crossing his fingers.

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