"How University Administrators Should Approach the Facebook: Ten Rules" (a command blog posting…)

Colleague/friend/golf player of sorts Bill Hart-Davidson commanded me to blog about this January 2006 post, “How University Administrators Should Approach the Facebook: Ten Rules,” which is on the very cool blog by a PhD student named Fred Stutzman.

Like Bill, I think Stutzman’s comments are spot-on about Facebook. But I’m not sure I agree completely with Bill. He accused me of being “too curmudgeonly about social networking apps.” Well heck, I like blogs, don’t I? And, as I mentioned just the other day, I think Facebook is a different animal in oh so many ways than MySpace. For one thing, if college students, who are ultimately “adults,” want to say things on the ‘net that may come back to cause them problems, that’s up to them. Stutzman suggests that people in the internet age, where search engine caches can always be retrieved, are being held to an unfairly high standard for mistakes they might have made in college on their Facebook (or other) sites. Maybe. But I seem to recall a lot of conversation about a young Bill Clinton’s status as a draft dodger or someone who did not actually inhale.

For another, according to Stutzman, most folks using Facebook are a lot more careful than the press would have us believe. I think he’s right about that; and again, that’s different than MySpace, IMO.

Anyway, go follow the Stutzman link– smart stuff.

4 thoughts on “"How University Administrators Should Approach the Facebook: Ten Rules" (a command blog posting…)”

  1. golf player of sorts…nice little ad hominem attack there…soon we will see, my friend, soon we will see.

    And, in any case, the fact that you don’t like how MySpace looks is part of your stodginess. You aren’t supposed to like it. If it’s too loud, you’re too old.

    You like blogs and e-mail. Those are, like, so last century technologies. (yep, even blogs).

  2. You know, when it comes to MySpace, it’s more than I’m just too old, and given the amount of blog posts and email messages that change hands every day, I think that’s still this century. No, I guess what I’m getting at with MySpace is that it breaks every “conventional” rule about effective web site design. Now, I’m going to assume that the problem is not with the people– the kids, really– who like MySpace. I’m going to assume this mainly because it would be too easy and knee-jerk to just blame the kids.

    So, if I’m not going to go this “blame” route, how do we explain the popularity of these rather ugly, rather difficult to use, and aesthetically problematic (at best) to use pages? Is it really a particular sort of audience that enjoys these kinds of pages? Is it possible that things like “good design” and “usability” “CRAP” and other things we talk about in tech comm and web design courses actually not that important?

    I dunno. My sense is that perhaps the popularity of MySpace and Facebook suggest that interactivity and content trump aesthetics and usability. But that’s just shootin’ off.

    BTW Bill, I golfed terrible. But terrible golf is still fun. ;-)

  3. I think you are on to something, Huatong Sun’s award-winning dissertation on mobile phone text messaging makes a compelling case (complete with lots of cross-cultural empirical evidence) that having the worst possible text-entry interface imaginable (in English or in Chinese!) does not deter use when the social affordances are compelling enough. It’s not that good design wouldn’t be better, it’s that users don’t need hero designers to figure out what’s useful and, despite the obstacles, how to make it usable. (that message, more or less, is in Clay Spinuzzi’s book Tracing Genres Through Organizations)

  4. I’m 22 and I can tell you that many people my age agree with Steve about MySpace. It looks terrible. That’s not even a question. Facebook is designed much more crisply and cleanly. And it is safer.

    Also, many college students who don’t sign up for MySpace are avoiding it because it’s like a kiddie’s toy. Who wants to click on some angst-ridden 13-year-old girl’s MySpace and automatically start hearing Britney Spears’ “Toxic”?

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