Episode 04 – Welcome to the Social

17 April, 20073 comments

Can social networking sites like Facebook play a productive role in the humanities? In this episode Dan plays the old fogey, while Tom and Mills talk about how to use these sites in an advantageous way. We also report on recent meetings on the digital humanities and digital museums, and discuss Google’s My Maps and Creative Common’s Learn initiative. And Mills and Dan plot an intervention to get Tom off of Twitter.

Also discussed were iGTD, Scenemaker, and the new digital humanities PBWiki.

Featuring: Dan Cohen, Mills Kelly, Tom Scheinfeldt.

Running time: 47:57.

Download the mp3.

[Editor’s note: This podcast was recorded before the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech–thus our normal, jovial tone and failure to mention that horrible day. Our hearts go out to the entire Virginia Tech community, some of whom are now or have been our colleagues at the Center for History and New Media.]

Categorized under copyright, Facebook, Google, social networking, Twitter

3 comments to “Episode 04 – Welcome to the Social”

  1. Sage : 19th April, 2007

    I enjoyed your discussion of social networking sites, but I think you guys over-estimate the ephemeral aspect. Facebook, in particular, seems like it’s here to stay; it has enough market- and mind-share among students that the network effect will pretty much keep any competitors from gaining a significant foothold. The apparent transitions in social networking coolness may be more of a demographic issue: MySpace becomes uncool students have access to a Facebook account and peer community.

    Considering the (increasing) level of sophistication of Facebook services, I’d be surprised if it fades out any time soon.

  2. Mills : 20th April, 2007

    Hi Sage:

    Thanks for the response. Of course, none of us know just how ephemeral these sites will or won’t be. But I remember a time when Friendster was the coolest of the cool. Does anyone even use that site any more?

    I also note that on Facebook they are starting to advertise the site as being for more than just colleges and high schools–that it is also for religious organizations and workplaces. If the Facebook community includes lots of grownups, will it still be the cool place to hangout, to see and be seen?


  3. Sage : 26th April, 2007

    I think Facebook probably will still be the place to be, for several reason. 1) They seem to be committed to keeping up with whatever new functionalities that are hot at the moment. 2) They have way more mindshare within the segments they serve than Friendster ever had; while there is a good chance alternate services could gain a strong position among groups that haven’t yet adopted Facebook, for any school with high rates of use, network effects will be too much to overcome. 3) Despite growth, Facebook is able to limit the horizons of social groups by geographic and institutional affiliations; a new church given access to Facebook will not be part of the network of State U., and there are privacy options that can limit this even further. The Facebook community is many Facebook communities (that match pre-existing real-world communities), and if people haven’t already abandoned Facebook despite moderately high use by faculty, I don’t think they are likely to soon. To some extent, though, I think the boundary between the formal persona of students interacting with teachers and the informal persona of students interacting with each other is breaking down. (And a student’s Facebook face is just as much an adopted persona as that student’s classroom face.)

    But it’s certainly not unthinkable that Facebook could go the way of Friendster.

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