Facing the Facts of Facebook

Darren Barefoot recently blogged about Facebook as an “Ad Hoc Engine for Folding Time.” Here’s a quote from his brilliant framing of this widely popular application:

Imagine the advantages of providing an online community where past, present and future members of an organization (a university faculty, a non-profit group, a company and so forth) can gather and exchange information.

To stick with my theatre example, imagine enabling a high school student in Campbell River to talk to a current UVic [University of Victoria] student, and enabling an acting student to talk to a graduate who’s now a working actor.

I could never have put the promise and possibility of Facebook this eloquently or cogently, so rather than trying, I implore you to go read his entire post (linked above) then come back for a few banal reasons why I find myself spending a lot more time in Facebook as of late.

Reason #1: Facebooking flickr!

Flickr FB

Reason #2: del.icio.us bookmarks anyone?

delicious Facebook

Reason #3 Facebook twits

Twitter Facebook

Reason #4 YouTube videos can be embedded! See here for details.

YouTube_FB

Reason #5 As with everything, it always comes back to fun, community, and the cult of me, me , me, me, me!!! (Sorry Barbara, and thanks go to Cathy and Seth -for further feeding an ego that knows no bounds and who have made Facebook all the more interesting these days with some pretty entertaining photoshop mashups.)

President Groom

Caption reads: “Jim Groom is feted by UMW as he accepts the offer of Presidency of the University. He turns his head to the camera, asking someone to please remove this odious woman from his sight.”

Freeman facebook

Caption reads: “Yeah, I guess I do see the resemblance.”

So, in short, I guess I have to finally face the facts that perhaps for all the right (or wrong) reasons I find myself in Facebook a lot more these days. It’s intensely simple, insanely connected, and has recently allowed for some exponentially exploding possibilities. Now this no way challenges my status as WordPress fanboy, and I am intensely sensitive to the fact that Facebook is not open source and I can’t host a version on my Bluehost account (which would undermine the whole logic of it). All the same, it has become extremely compelling for a long time hold-out skeptic like myself. I think I am becoming a believer -you all know what that means, don’t you?!

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9 Responses to Facing the Facts of Facebook

  1. Darren says:

    Thanks for the kind words!

  2. Chris L says:

    This discussion is interesting to me… I read Darren’s post and had a smack-myself-on-the-forehead moment at the recognition of a characteristic of Facebook that I have been harping about for a few years regarding social software in general: the continuity of communities. One of the most exciting aspects of the social software as educational workspace is the ability to have the very scenario Darren describes– students in dialogue with practitioners and enthusiasts. I am always relating how that has worked for me with the writing community.

    But I am always thinking about blogging and other distributed ways for this to happen, while the more focused and intense possibilities of something like Facebook to achieve that same end have gone unnoticed. It’s still not a place I spend a *lot* of time in– it doesn’t replace blogging or del.icio.us etc… but I can see a bit more of a vision regarding its importance and possibility now.

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  4. jimgroom says:

    @Chris,

    I am with you entirely on this. I resisted Facebook for so long because I believed it was a simple tool to poke friends or leave messages. I think my own simplification fo the tool has been guided by my own love of the blog and status as fanboy. But as you argued so eloquently with twitter, Facebook is just another space for networking with a variety of great folks who may not have the time or inclination to blog. Additionally, it’s potential to “fold time” makes it a really powerful force in the understanding of creating and maintaining a community of learners.

  5. Martha says:

    There are only two ways I can interpret that last line:

    * You are switching camps: Facebook Fanboy? Say it ain’t so.

    * You have decided to fully commit yourself to the CoG (Cult of Groom).

    BTW, I have plans to “Google-ize” the proper noun “Groom.” As in “You’ve just been Groomed!”

  6. Barbara says:

    Yeah, yeah , yeah–I hear you, and yes, even I now have a Facebook account due to an invitation by a theater & technology group in a local college. And way Facebook is morphing its way into a pretty interesting ed tool is, of course, wonderful.

    But I remain a steadfast blogger (alright, slow-blogging fangirl)–not just for my own learning practice but for the classroom. I want to make sure we also get excited about the slow bubbling up of ideas, the revisions to our thinking, the linking out and back around like those letter-writing thought communities of old. I worry that GenMe will not have ample opportunity to explore the delights of ongoing, deep connections if we all take to Facebook in the classroom. Indeed, I plan to resist it becuase I KNOW they understand the beauty of that tool, of that practice without any help from me whatsoever. I like the fact that a blog needs feeding to blossom into something interesting and valuable to the group.

    So there. 😉

  7. jimgroom says:

    @Martha -I’m still, and may forever be, a WordPress fanboy extraordinaire, but have come a long way from my utter contempt of Facebook to a healthy appreciation of the ways through which it fosters organic communities quickly and easily.

    I love the irony in being “groomed” given how unkempt I often am -perhaps that’s the rub that will sell it to the masses! Convert, ye clean-cut, khaki-short, sneaker wearing sinners.

    @Barabra -You darned provincial slow-bloggers! Always bloggity this and bloggity that 😉 I guess to echo what I said above, I think this post really traces my own complete disregard for Facebook to a more genuine appreciate of its possibilities as a social space wherein we don’t necessarily teach, but have fun, socialize, keep in touch with graduates, and generally “network.” How man y of your students (and you being the blog master teacher extraordinaire) keep blogging after graduation. I’m sure a number, but there is also an equal number whom may not -and that is not necessarily a sign of their disaffection, but life, liberty and the pursuit of cunsumptivness. Facebook is one space, amongst many, where you can touch base, keep track (in a good way of course), and have some fun with them (even if it is slow fun). I am gonna reproduce a comment I made on a recent blog post by Jerry that suggests a different kind of order that my emerge from Facebook:

    I noticed in my mini-feed today that a student I was friends with in Facebook, on her own initiative, was starting a Virginia Woolf reading group using a Facebook group, So, I decided to join it to see what would happen. I have been made a group officer of tech support & honorary faculty ! Which is kind of exciting for me, I can’t wait to help them create a distributed book club -I was built for this! So, I think you’re right, let the students frame their own experiences on Facebook, but at the same time don’t be too afraid to join in and have fun with them.

    But, all this to say that Facebook will probably never make a convincing formalized learning environment, but it can trace the beginnings of more protracted, thoughtful learning experiences beyond and in addition to the more formalized logic of the classroom.

  8. Jeff says:

    Once again, I began a comment and it became a blog post, in this case adding on to this comment thread through a discussion of one use of Facebook in an academic setting. http://mcclurken.blogspot.com/2007/06/facebook-and-faculty-small-tale-of.html

    (I wonder if blogspot is ever going to make it easy to use trackback/pinging features…? 🙂

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