Social Networking

Flickr's Social Network by GustavoG

The FlickrVerse, April 2005 Poster: Flickr's Social Network by GustavoG

I found the Graduate Junction site by way of David Warlick’s blog and considering the title of this post, the irony is not lost on me. Reflecting on our readings for this week, I wonder what your thoughts are about this site for graduate students. Is such a networking site necessary for you to be successful now as a graduate student? What about five years from now? Is the academic paradigm really changing all that much?

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3 Responses to “Social Networking”

  1. Jessica McBride Says:

    I have to admit that this week my reactions to the articles are much more cynical, so I guess I’ll start with there and hopefully finish on a positive note. First off, the 2 Educause articles (7 Things You Should Know About Facebook & 7 Things You Should Know About Facebook II) paint a much rosier picture of how our students use Facebook than is actually the case. I’m sure there are some students who are on what seems to be the most popular social networking site among college students for academic, professional or educational purposes, but it’s primarily a place to connect with friends. I appreciated how Clive Thompson called it as the “de facto commons,” because I think this is a much more accurate description. Although the anecdotes about Angela and Paul finding friends in different Facebook groups who could help them with study abroad and graduate program queries is nice, I really don’t think this is how our students use the site. I take issue with this description because I think it ignores real use and neglects possibilities other possible benefits to the site. Rather than pretending our students are primarily searching Facebook for educational purposes, I think the article should have focused more on the communicative benefits it allows. In a class like French Cinema filled to capacity, Facebook allows students to stay up to date on assignments, form study groups before tests and other types of learning that they do with people they already know more or less personally from class. I guess I’m just saying I think we should be realistic in order to exploit Facebook as much as possible as an educational tool.

    Second, the idea of ambient intimacy espoused in Clive Thompson’s article really left me slightly depressed. It reminded me of that movie with Sandra Bullock from a while back The Net. Bullock’s character, at least at the beginning of the movie, is completely isolated in her home, getting groceries delivered so she doesn’t have to leave. Her only contact with other people is via the internet. Now, I think her character was meant to seem a bit paranoid and social inept, but as Caterina Fake points out in Thompson’s article, she admits to experiencing a sort of “laziness” about actually seeing her friends in person because she feels connected enough with them via Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. It’s clear we’ve got a slight problem when email becomes too much work as Thompson mentions.

    On a more positive note, I do think that the Graduate Junction website has a lot of potential, although that assumption would be based on how many people actually use the site (I haven’t yet created an account, so not really sure?) However after being introduced to Ning, I’ve been trying to find other people with similar research interests to no avail. I have found people from Quebec but none who study Quebecois literature, so perhaps the Graduate Junction site could be of use. I also think that their features for conferences and publications are extremely useful. Especially considering the university’s financial troubles, as graduate students we need to make sure that we’re publishing and presenting as much as possible. Having a place to go where we can find all this information in one place not only saves time but keeps us informed of any possibilities. I’m looking forward to exploring Graduate Junction more this weekend!

  2. nmcclure17 Says:

    I have to agree with Jessie about the cynicism. I still just don’t see a pedagogical (or social for that matter) function for Twitter. I just can’t wrap my head around it. I like my daily minutae and I like to keep it to myself! I often lament my cell phone just because people call me constantly at all hours for no real reason. “Are you going to the conference next week?” “I haven’t seen you. How are you?” It actually drives me mad – I appreciate the concern, but seriously, not seeing me for 48 hours does not constitute the need for a panicked phone call. That being said, I feel no obligation to anyone but myself to report my random doings. I looked at a view of the education projects that use Twitter and I must say that I don’t see an enormous value in them or that they are exclusive to Twitter.

    I have to say, I think I’m the last holdout on Facebook and for many of the reasons that I’ve already listed. I choose who I surround myself with – I don’t necessarily want to be found and I certainly don’t like being “incorporated” into someone else’s virtual world. I completely sympathized with the woman mentioned in the Clive Thompson article, that was upset because high school acquaintances were posted old photos. This has happened to me and it made me batty! I actually had a near stranger comment on how I looked on the previous Saturday because they had seen pictures that were now posted on someone else’s Facebook profile. That is NOT okay with me. I do recognize the capability of some aspects of social networking in the classroom, particuarly after Nathalie’s intro to Ning a few weeks ago. However, I have reservations about the collision of public/private, casual/professional. I think I’ve mentioned before that even students are resistant to education barging into their social networks. Of course, you can use one network for social and one for education, etc., but then we are building up dozens of “virtual identities” – I’m already feeling a bit schizophrenic with my duties as teacher and student!

  3. wltung Says:

    This week we have learned the most popular social networking tools and websites by reading the articles of “7 things you should know about Facebook & Facebook II”, “7 things you should know about Twitter” and Clive Thompson’s “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy.” Though I do not really use all the networking tools, I feel that they all seem to have similar functions-to allow people to create their own profile and have dynamic links with other users. For me, though I am curious about technology and signed up on Facebook last year, I never use it or apply it as a tool in teaching. However, due to the new learned knowledge of Web CT, I have started to set up groups on Facebook for Chinese class before the “ning’ was introduced by Nathalie. After few couple of weeks, I found some truths about using it. Like Jessica mentioned, the scenario of Paul and Angela’s case by applying Facebook are not happened so often for the users on Facebook. According to my observation, most of my students use Facebook to express their moods and have simple chats and also find and connect new friends dynamically. The efficient “new feeds” let the link of their chats with others efficiently. And the kids are all fond of its efficiency to add photos and videos and to show their moods in every minute efficiently. Actually, the article of “7 things You Should Know about Facebook” mentioned the downsides of Facebook do not happen in my Chinese group so far, at least I feel the students use Facebook in sophisticated attitudes. I do not see any student in my group add weird photos or talk weirdly. Only I saw them have simple chats and debate some topics related to political issues. As for my Chinese group, I apply it to add my supplements and learning messages or put clipped videos. And students will put their questions on it sometimes, and I can answer them efficiently. However, not everything you can tackle well by using Facebook. For example, I found I am not allowed to put long articles. Even I cannot post the syllabus, I may add it by linking to my other blog. Also I feel the new feeds are a lot of messages that you need not to know, yet they will keep popping out as you are on the website.

    As for “Twitter”, since I do not use it, I have learned some information from “7 things you should know about Twitter” and “Why I Still Love Twitter,” but I still have the same doubt like Nicole. For me, I am living a simple life even without a mobile phone. So, while I learned that most of social networking tools can link with mobile phones, my response is like Nicole–if it is necessary to let everyone to find you or to get link with you at any time. I agree with Nicole’s idea-to keep every minute of yourself and not be disturbed so easily.

    I feel that all the tools are helpful and useful in some ways, yet before you choose the web tools, you had better know what your goal is and how much time you will take. To be alert not be distracted away from your goal.


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