[Note: this was written after the first of the eleventy billion Facebook changes that began in 2009.]
When I took the tour of the new Facebook homepage design, before the redesign was rolled out to users, I think my initial reaction was “great! can’t wait!” or something like that. Conceptually, or as described on that “tour” page, the new features seemed like they would enhance a user’s ability to clean up the incoming stream of information—the filters, in particular, seemed a good idea.
But in practice what I see right now is a serious reduction in the user’s ability to clean up the incoming stream (at least without the use of the Facebook Purity greasemonkey script). The lack of customization options for the stream section in the middle of the main page is troublesome to say the least. Although the “show more about…”/”show less about…” options/settings sliders from the previous incarnation of Facebook never really worked that I could tell, in this new incarnation that sort of filtering is completely gone—replaced with all-or-nothing filtering in which the only customization options that appear in the stream section are simply to “hide [username]” with no ability to hide certain types of information about/posted by that user.
Let me be the first to note that in the last year or so I’ve been a lousy commenter on blogs. I read many, and I bookmark a bunch of stuff to write about later (which I never do), but taking a moment to write a thoughtful comment? Or even a not-so-thoughtful one? Yeah, not so much. This is a sad state of affairs for me (which I aim to remedy), because I firmly believe in the blog comment as an integral part of creating a community, expanding that community, and furthering discussion on topics of interest to said community.
This topic is especially important for me now, as I am co-teaching a course with Dr. Kristin Arola called Electronic Research and the Rhetoric of Information. While instructing students in the ways in which the self and society shape and are shaped by the information networks we use, obviously we have to teach them how to use those networks. As you might expect, our students are blogging, and are supposed to be commenting on classmates’ blog posts. This is all well and good. But what I see in their work—and the other blogging work I’ve seen students (here) do, is a disjointed and disconnected sort of blogging. I’m putting that on the list of things to write about next—ways in which I see blogging used and misused in the classroom—but in this post I’m going to address the feature (for I do see it as a feature) of commenting on blogs.
NOTE: This is a (slightly edited) re-post of a blog entry I wrote way back in 2005, that actually comes from a few pages in ye olde blogging book. I decided to re-post this because although you might think everyone is hip with the blogging, that isn’t really the case. In fact, the majority of students in my (half mine) class are new bloggers. I know this will be useful for them. Maybe others.