Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two questions for my Facebook friends

I just posted the following on Facebook, and I'm sharing it here to enhance (I hope) the likelihood of getting responses:

Hi everyone - just curious... 
I created my Facebook account a couple of years ago because it was one of the hot new things that journalists were being encouraged to use (the other one was Twitter). I'm still here because so many other people are here, so it seems like it should be an effective way to share information.
But I don't like it.
I'm not saying that I hate it, although I might have said that at one time. Just that I don't like it. When I log in to Facebook, it is because it seems necessary, not because I enjoy it.
But the way that Facebook keeps growing tells me that I must be missing something. Maybe it's just the way that I use it that prevents me from enjoying it the way others do. Maybe other people see something - or lots of somethings - that I don't.
I'm willing to learn, so I'm asking:
What do you LIKE most about Facebook?
What do you DISLIKE most about Facebook?
 Thanks for any and all responses!

Part of my issue may be that I don't use Facebook the way some people (lots of people, apparently) do. At PsychCentral.com, senior news editor Rick Nauert writes about a study by Kevin Wise, an assistant professor of strategic communication at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, of "How People Use Facebook.":

Wise categorized participants’ actions into two different groups: social browsing and social searching. (italics mine)
He defines social browsing as navigating the site without a targeted goal in mind. Wise says people use social browsing when they survey the general landscape, such as their newsfeed or wall, without looking for specific information. 
Wise defines social searching as searching the social networking site with the goal of finding certain information about a specific person, group, or event.

Wow. I don't think I've ever used Facebook to find information, other than using it to find out whether or not someone is on Facebook. Otherwise, the idea of using Facebook to find information strikes me as bizarre.

Wise found that participants tended to spend much more time on social searching than social browsing. Not only did participants spend more time on social searching, but they seemed to enjoy it more as well.

“We found a more positive response from participants during social searching, or when they had homed in on a particular target,” Wise said.

“Ultimately, it appears that Facebook use is largely a series of transitions between browsing the environment, then focusing in on something interesting or relevant.”
So, maybe I will find Facebook more interesting if I learn to use it as a source - like the 48 percent of young Americans who find out about news through Facebook.

Meanwhile, I need to explore more of Facebook's features. Two features that I do not expect to find would make Facebook much more appealing to me.

  1. I wish Facebook had chatrooms. I miss the dynamic of sharing a screen with a dozen or more people, friends and strangers alike, who share an interest in a given topic. I developed friendships with people that way. I just learned that Facebook has the ability to create chatrooms, through groups. Gotta try that out. 
  2. I wish I could filter my feed(s) by topic. When I go online, I am generally not looking to see what people I know are doing; I am generally looking for topic-related information.
Maybe I'll drop a bug in Mark Zuckerberg's ear about those ideas. Does the Hacker Way include paying close attention to user feedback?
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