Facing the Facebook
Jan 24, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes
Another anti-technology screed from the Chronicle (do they ever get tired of running these?) this time contra the Facebook, a social network with membership restricted to U.S. college students. To follow this article, everything bad happening on campus - from disengaged students to rising costs to homophobia to media manipulation - is caused by Facebook. The argument is as ridiculous as it is invalid (but shedding the principles of reason seems to be no obstacle to the professoriate these days, a phenomenon that puzzles me by its pervasiveness). Why do I think the author's "ethical concerns" (his words) are misplaced here? Perhaps it's because I obtained my degrees mostly by skipping class and learning how to think and to write at a student newspaper. Perhaps it's because I wasted years of my life playing, chatting in, and eventually designing online environments. Or perhaps it's simply because I understand a little about the principles of causation, and I know that the expression does not cause the phenomenon. Whatever the matter, I will take a few words out of my "egocasting" (his words) to call on the Chronicle to apply some sort of academic standard to its coverage.
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