Should academics use Facebook? 

Ian Bogost – A Professor’s Impressions of Facebook

I suppose I have had some very similar experiences to ian Bogost since I signed up to Facebook in Spring 2007. Here’s what he says of whether or not I should have a profile on facebook:

Many academics are asking themselves how they should be using the service — should they stay at arms length and not try to meddle in students’ Facebook lives? Or should they attempt to integrate themselves into their students online lives? I have experimented with adding some of my former students as
friends, but questions abound: should I seek out and add all my students? Will I appear collegial? Solicitous? Perverted? If I add just the “best” ones or those with whom I had more deliberate academic content, will this be viewed as favoritism? By whom? On the flipside, does a student have any expectations of me if we are Facebook friends? Should they?

Ultimately Bogost thinks that academic faculty should use Facebook in the same ways that they use any other form of social capital – in order to mentor students in the ‘real world’.

I think this because university faculty have a responsibility to mentor students, not just in the context of disciplinary knowledge, but also in the context of interacting with the world more broadly. Apprenticeship is not just a process of learning a trade; it is also a process of learning how to contextualize work in relation to the rest of one’s life.

He also includes an interesting perspective on the nature of friendship in Facebook