My twitter addiction is right on course. I can (ahem) quit at anytime, just not today. Or tomorrow. Or…

For sheer failure of seeing my calculated negative allotment of free time grow even more negative, I have greatly resisted digging into the worlds of MySpace and Facebook — but decided for some curiosity and just because I cannot advocate commenting from the outside- I signed up at Facebook. This was really prompted by some stats shared by D’Arcy and Cole about the amazingly high percentage use of FB at their institutions (like in the 80% range).

That is rather scary in some sense, considering data Ive seen and collected suggested blog activity at edu being more like in the 15-20% range.

But I am not spending much time in facebook, not looking for friends or parties or photos of XXXXX. The bits I have seen indicate they have the social networking and the finding of related interests running at a level our educational tools can only dream of. Put it besides Blackboard and WebCT, and those look like wobbly oxcarts next to a thumpin’ Ferrari.

I poked around the networks in Facebook trying to get some numbers for a variety of colleges/universities, in not the most scientific sampling, and then to compare it to what I could find for enrollment numbers at the institution web sites -where the first number is what facebook reports as the number of people in the network, the second is the best number I could find on total student enrollment (this was literally 20 minutes of lazy research)

  • Arizona State University 44613 / 58782 75.90%
  • Lewis-Clark College 908 / 3500 25.94%
  • University of South Florida 30763 / 44038 69.86%
  • Harvard 35160 / 20042 175.43%
  • University of Mary Washington 5656 / 4750 119.07%

Of course, there are some bull dozer sized curious holes in there- why are there so many Harvard people in Facebook? Is it because of Alumni? I don’t know how to get a number that means currently enrolled students. But go Harvard- either the students there value their profile or the alumni are really pounding the social connections.

Even if you chopped the Facebook reported numbers in half, those are freakin large numbers!

And things get even more bizarre as you look into the user created groups. Dont look if your stomach is weak. Still probing the allure of Harvard, I found the group “Any other crazy ******** out there wanna go to Harvard??” advertised as:

This is for ppl who want to go to harvard. the title was pretty self explanatory– u gotta b ***ing crazy

and there are 56 members in this society.

I don’t want to do more digging. But if you are discounting this kind of activity, you are really going to be walloped by the sheer volume of this kind of activity. And thrusting your head in the sand will not work for long.

But I may just try.

The post "Twitter The GateWay Drug?" was originally assembled from spare parts of a 1957 Chevy at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2007/05/facebook/) on May 7, 2007.

5 Comments

  • “The bits I have seen indicate they have the social networking and the finding of related interests running at a level our educational tools can only dream of. Put it besides Blackboard and WebCT, and those look like wobbly oxcarts next to a thumpin’ Ferrari.”

    Correct.

    Maybe our students will invite us to the learning party, if we promise not to put them inside course containers with customizable buttons….

  • C’mon, those are beveled buttons! Rounded corners to boot!

  • arvind s grover 21apples.org

    Love the post. Not as much as my students love Facebook, but can anyone love anything that much? My brothers constantly try and get my to have more on my Facebook than the blank profile that it currently is, but one problem I have as a teacher is I don’t necessarily want to socialize in the same spheres as my students. How do we deal with that? I mean if a parent saw that I was “friends” with their child, and their child’s site had pictures of them in less-than-honorable places, or with abusive language, wouldn’t they think I was connected to that?

    Weird new boundaries coming up here. That being said, I love-my some social networking, especially Twitter

  • There’s no mystery to the Harvard phenomenon. Facebook was founded at Harvard, and originally was a Harvard-only (and then Ivy League-only) social network.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook#2004.

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