The communication infrastructure is advancing quickly. I now have the ability to talk to people I admire, and to reach others through self-publishing and the web. I have a Facebook account that ties my blog, my Flickr account, my musical playlists, etc… it is a place where I can consolidate my web presences. It is also a place where I can communicate with others who have similar interests. It is place where I can get up to date (sometimes up to the minute) reports from conferences as well as notes by presenters and audience members, links to presentations and other presentation materials.
Facebook’s API allows developers to create applications which can be used by Facebook users. This leads to a proliferation of applications. Some of these applications are good, while others are not. The sheer number of applications assures that there will be some things you will like. Face book itself is doing a decent job of building itself and seems to listen to its users. It adds new features like the “you might know these people, or like to meet them” feature, and some that are totally lame--like using your friends to market services or products to you--this really sucks and is offensive. Hopefully Facebook will learn from the backlash that resulted from this advertising technique.
Facebook allows you to easily contact, message, and now even instant message your contacts. The messaging system was alright, but now that the chat feature is functional Facebook has become the killer networking application. I am friends with most of the presidents of my library associations. I have spoken with them and even bounced ideas off of them. This is a great thing—I have gotten constructive feedback from people who I admire and have learned much already in the short time the chat utility has been available.
I love being able to plug my Flickr, Blog, and other web presences into my Facebook account. Facebook can give my contacts a peek at what I am doing on my other sites and they can investigate further if the choose. The applications that I use are simple to set up and easy to manage. I am constantly finding interesting blogs, web sites, etc… via this aspect of Facebook. The Firefox browser Face book plug-in I use allows me to post interesting web sites I encounter while I’m surfing and to annotate them—I love this feature. I have an audio scrobbler application for my Facebook account which shows what I am listening to, and what tracks I have recently played.
Facebook also has good group pages. The pages have gotten better, but could still use more applications and functions added to them. Ideally I would think they should have many of the functions of personal pages. There are groups for most interests. There are also organizational pages where you can get a page for your organization. A library, or corporation, or other organization can create a page where people can then become fans and interact with each other and the organization.
Another great application of Facebook is the ability to access presenters’ notes, and audience members’ notes and comments during and after a conference. Readers of these notes can them comment back. This can sometimes lead to new insights and the creation of new knowledge. I followed the notes of many attendees and presenters from the last Computers in Libraries conference. This is pretty incredible to say the least, and puts the notion of gray literature to new levels. The creation, distribution, diffusion, and creation of new knowledge are very close together on this networking level.
There is much to Facebook and social networking. It is changing every day, and is becoming more and more a valued source of information for me. I am meeting new people daily, having interesting conversations, and am learning rapidly. If you make one venture into social networking you should check out Face book. I say this for the reasons above, which have only scratched the surface of the utility of this great platform. And remember, have fun!