Mugs Across the Curriculum

A group of Harvard students has fashioned a social network site for
stimulating connectedness among coeds at several top-flight schools.  According
to their site, 

You can use Thefacebook to:
– Search for people at your school
– Find out who is in your classes
– Look up your friends’ friends
– See a visualization of your social network 

This has interesting possibilities, especially for its emphasis on
institutionally centered networks as safe(r), inherently associational, loaded
with potential for fruitful connections. The visualization feature is
intriguing, too.  And although it’s pitching the social dimension of
undergraduate life (where there are, of course, other ways to "find out who
is in your classes"), I can’t help but wonder how Thefacebook could affect
professional networks or whole fields of study, perhaps even the entire
professorate (provided there is such a thing). For now, the group is playing on
the kid-ish "poke" to name the contact gestures.  Pokes are kind of like trackback pings–only they’re aimed at interpersonal,
single-channel (removed from wide readability) communications; I suppose this
brand of funning toward a sense of social connection and generated collegiality
would doom Thefacebook to imminent failure in more formal (read serious, read
) circles.  But it’s fun to think about the potential, even
to imagine how this might reweave the social fabric for community colleges or
commuter-based institutions or large-scale distance learning programs (none of
which appear on the list yet).  So far, according to the
article on Wired News
, nearly 250,000 students are registered for poking at
34 institutions.  Notably, the site limits poking to folks at one’s
own institution, which makes good sense considering that students at Harvard
really shouldn’t be poking students at UMich–and vice versa.


  1. When I first saw stories about TFB, I thought about sending a note to CCCC about it, suggesting that this would probably be a better way to retain members…


  2. Judging by the group’s record of media coverage, Thefacebook looks fairly new. It’s not too late to poke the C’s leadership with the notion. Can’t imagine uses of TFB could be any worse than listserv cults for spurring the field.

  3. Actually, Collin, got to say that’s a good idea. I’m not sure whether the CCCC/NCTE folk would get its purpose or potential, but the organization(s) is becoming more and more fragmented into those who use WPA (which is really not very many), those who’ve become disillusioned with the non-theoretical turn comp is returning to, and those who really don’t know who the other folks are or what they are doing.


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