Have you heard of facebook.com? That networking phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation? 8.5 million high school and college students are registered members in the online community.
It looks like facebook is going to join blogging, podcasts and rss feeds as another area of electronic communication that is used by students and should be utilized by higher education professionals. It’s a networking tool that allows students present themselves online, meet new friends and keep in touch with old friends.
Anyone with a university email address can create a personal profile that includes basic info such as name, age, area of study, hometown, as well as interests from music and sports to other hobbies. Sounds like any online community, right? Wrong. Here are some extra goodies that I love about facebook.
1.) Every part of the profile is “clickable”. Click an individual interest, for example: “skiing”. ALL of the skiers will be listed for you to view or message. Click your hometown to list all members with that hometown. Click a relationship status, for example..”single.” Click a field of study. (Could future employers be interested in your facebook profile? As in all forms of online self-presentation, be careful what you disclose.)
2.) Really fun groups–I am currently a member of “free food bandits”, Boston Red Sox fans, “My Last Name is Nelson”, “It’s Pop, not Soda”, and dozens of others that help form an online identity, plus hook me up with new friends who share my interests. More importantly, the bandits group lists all of the free food functions on campus. (see my comment on Silandara’s last post for more info.)
3.) More serious groups–Professional networking is possible as well. Some students form groups based on academic interests, religious beliefs, study abroad plans or even housing locations.
4.) Photos–Upload as many as you want. If anyone posts a picture of you on their own album, it will automatically connect to your profile as one of your pictures. (This can be good or bad.)
5.) Well, networking. I have added over a hundred friends to my friends list. Now If I type “skiing” and view a profile of a skier with my common interests, facebook lists our mutual friends. If we have no mutal friends, it will display a map of “how we know each other”. For example, at Susan’s profile: Nicole:::Jeremy:::Susan. (Susan knows Jeremy, and Jeremy knows my friend, Nicole.)
6.) Events. Members can send and recieve invites to any kind of event: parties, concerts, etc.
Recent concerns with privacy have arisen at several universities. For more info, read this story published at the University of Oklahoma.
There’s so much potential available on facebook, from advertising to job seeking. A group called the “Facebook Rules Book” sums up the choice not to jump on the networking bandwagon here:
“If you are not on Facebook, that does not mean that people will think you are cool or mysterious. It means that no one is thinking about you at all.ï¿½
Seems a little harsh, but still..join 8.5 million students, Paul Stella, Mary-Beth Cooper, Silandara Barlett-Gustina and I on facebook sometime. Everyone is doin it.
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