Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog on e-Learning Trends eLearning 2.0 Personal Learning Informal Learning eLearning Design Authoring Tools Rapid e-Learning Tools Blended e-Learning e-Learning Tools Learning Management Systems (LMS) e-Learning ROI and Metrics

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Facebook Platform

Stephen Downes picked up my post on Facebook As a Learning Platform. He commented:
To be clear, I do not think that Facebook itself is really a learning environment. It's a large, centralized piece of software that is getting creaky with use (we've seen more outages and the PHP code is once again dumping itself into users' browsers). Its privacy policies are questionable and it is giving out user information to applications willy-nilly. But it is still important, because it reveals many of the features future learning environments (and personal environments in general) will need to have. Something like the social network operating system, maybe. These are nicely captured by this article as Tony Karrer pulls together a number of recent resources on the site to throw out some ideas.
Because Stephen and I come from such different environments, perspectives, etc., it's always an interesting data point when he and I are in complete agreement. I also feel like Facebook is a bit creaky and as Thomas Vanderwal's recent post Facebook for Business or LinkedIn Gets More Valuable points out, as you use Facebook more and have more friends, it seems to get harder to use. Linked in doesn't seem to suffer from that.

All of that said, Facebook is surprising me in terms of how well it works as a platform. As I mentioned in my other post, it effectively provides an operating environment that knows about:
  • You (your profile, interests, demographics)
  • Your friends
  • Your groups
Think of all of the different Web 2.0 applications that similarly try to figure this stuff out. Luis Suarez - How to Boost Your Social Capital with Facebook mentions MyBlogLog. Great example, Luis. Shouldn't MyBlogLog link directly to each person's Facebook account so I can have that profile information? Shouldn't the MyBlogLog community form a kind of group? If you think about MyBlogLog implemented on top of Facebook it becomes a better application because I'll know more people who are visiting my blog. And I can connect with them in better ways. In fact, MyBlogLog should get to it!

And as you run down different applications, you find that You, Friends and Groups are fairly common. In fact, LMS, Elgg, Flickr,, Wikis, Blogs, Discussion Groups, Amazon, hmmm, the list gets long quickly. Pretty much everything I would ever do that would associate me with other people. It's pretty much the same issue that's been discussed before in terms of currently having Too Many Social Networks?and Multiple Social Networks. However, in this case, I almost see it more form the opportunity side of things. There are some really interesting opportunities to treat Facebook like a uniting platform.


Gavin Heaton said...

Very true ... and I am sure that is just what the Facebook folks are hoping for!

What makes this interesting is that the Facebook team are not as in control of their strategy as they would like to present. In many ways, that will come down to the users (and widget developers) who find ways to build out and develop the Facebook platform.

Tony Karrer said...

Gavin - that's a good point. And I'm curious what's going to happen as Applications compete with FB functionality.