Downes on Facebook

Innovate: Places to Go: Facebook

Stephen Downes reviews Facebook, one of the most widely popular of social networking sites that has emerged in recent years. In his review, Downes notes that Facebook is distinctive because its stronger roots in the academic community, and he proposes that the site’s varied and distinctive functions allow it to provide a very different model of how online tools can be used in eduational contexts. After outlining such functions in greater detail, Downes also addresses the redesign of Facebook to allow the use of external applications for posting content; he also reassesses the limitations that some have noted with regard to its “closed” structure—particularly the inability of users to export Facebook lists and other documents to other platforms or systems. Downes observes that the problem of finding an ideal balance between privacy and freedom is inevitable because of the site’s key features, and he concludes that its relatively closed structure may indeed have been the original purpose of the designers.

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