Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Facebook Revolt

"Do you own Facebook? Or does Facebook own you?" asks the title of this article in New York Magazine this week. If you read some of my other posts, this article might sound like a bit of a contrast. It sounds like Facebook really is a democracy. Why? Well, after a group arose protesting the new Terms of Service, Facebook actually offered users the opportunity to comment on a revised ToS, will review the comments and allow users to vote on the new ToS during the week of April 20. (Don't forget to vote - they need at least 30% of members to vote to "ratify" it).

But, this is not the only part of the article that drew me to it. It brings into question the whole idea of social networking and sharing - the participation age, I like to call it - and ponders the effect that Facebook has on our own lives. Beyond that, it clearly explains some very real new terms in this era of social networking.
  • Folksonomies - Like the old library filing system uses a taxonomy to categorize information, so Web 2.0 is organized by tagging and other social categorization conventions.
  • Social Graph - The network representation of your online social life.
  • Digital Self - Your whole online persona
  • The Cloud - A networked hard drive; the future storage of your information
The article raises some interesting questions. Feel free to post comments with your thoughts on these....
  1. "Your digital self could be even more sensitive, and powerful, than your real self". There is lots of talk about people being bolder and less inhibited online, but this seems to indicate the opposite: A more self-aware and sensitive online self. What do you think?
  2. Facebook and other social networks are continuously trying to balance functionality and privacy issues. Users are on a "perpetual search for the perfect balance of unity and autonomy on the Web"? Where do you fall on this issue? What is most important to you? And how do you think this will differ among different generations of users?
  3. No one asks for a phone number or email anymore. It's just "I'll find you on Facebook". Facebook, the utopian promise of a place where everyone is equal, where reflection is abundant and where, through social cohesion, there is a "chance to save the day". If this is true, if Facebook presence becomes ubiquitous and real social change can result, how does this impact how educators should think about technologies like social networks and their use in the classroom? How should educators change their teaching methods as a response to understanding students online persona and the world in which they live?
Read the article and let me know what parts stood out for you. What components are important to you? Why?

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