Kathy Fischer discusses the way that the University of Connecticut Women’s Center has used a Facebook community. Fischer comments that as Facebook allows students to explore their identity, so it fitted well with the ethos of the centre. The ability of users to set levels of privacy was seen as useful, though Fischer realised the fact that they had set up the requirement to use a University Address to join would exclude graduates who no longer had a local email address. Fischer, however suggests “Students who had graduated three or more years ago typically did not use Facebook and rarely expressed any interest in joining.” I’m not sure that I’d agree with that – at least, not in the UK. I’m finding more and more of my contemporaries (graduating rather more than 3 years ago) have Facebook accounts. (Though my students were a bit surprised that I seem to know quite a lot about it!)
Fischer goes on to discuss the ways in which group identity can be developed – using the various tools (applications) in Facebook. From what I’ve seen, that is important. Several groups that I have seen would seem to be just a “badge gathering” exercise, they don’t seem to be very active. She comments:
Unlike many other social networking sites, Facebook began as a tool for users located in centralized physical locations, specifically college campuses. As a result, Facebook users online profiles tend to closely parallel their offline identities
This is something I’ve not really considered; yet, it’s the way I’m using Facebook. Most of the friends I have listed are either those I have met in real life, or they are those that I already have a working relationship with online. I’ve generally ignored the seemingly random approaches.
One of the main things that makes me think again when it comes to Facebook is the closed approach that it takes. It’s easy to get information in, much harder to get it out. While it’s not quite a “black hole”, it is heading in that direction at times.
I’ve seen that “black hole” in the applications, (as well as information in general). I’d signed up for one SecondLife to Facebook link – Jane found another. Equally, I’ve got one Bookshelf application and Ken Newman has another. Should I have both & enter books to both to allow others to see what I’m reading. Or just stick to the one that I chose?
After I’d drafted this, I thought I’d go and re-investigate the difficulty I’d had joining Durham University as a graduate. I’ve just remembered that I have a “dunelm.org.uk” email address, that was created when I joined the alumnae website – it seems that’s one of the acceptable email addresses for joining the Durham Community. (The slightly confusing thing is that the first time I found the Durham community, I had to decide if I was student, alumnae or whatever. This time it just let me join. Oh well).
Refs: Fischer, K (2007). Facebooking Feminism. On Campus with Women, Vol 36 (Issue 2). Retrieved November 3rd, 2007 from http://www.aacu.org/ocww/volume36_2/feature.cfm?section=1