As you may or may not know, Facebook removed it’s course tracking application at the beginning of August. Apparently this was done in order to make more room for home-grown facebook apps. I didn’t notice it until yesterday when I decided I would stalk my prospective students. I guess I just started mentally filtering out all the news stories with the keyword “Facebook App” in them in the last few months.
For one, I do not understand this decision. This type of applications only work well if everyone is using the same one. When the functionality was built in, everyone was on the same page so to speak. If you entered in your courses, you were immediately connected with all the other students who did the same.
Currently, users have to pick between 6 or 7 popular course tracking apps (and new ones are popping up every day it seems) – all of which are essentially walled gardens. Where once there was unified user base, we now have fractured clusters spread over multiple domains. If you install one of them, and your friends installs another you will never know that you are in the same class. So which one do you join? Do you join them all?
I tried several, and the 3 top ones had major scalability problems. They were all slow, and one of them basically refused to display anything but an error message. It appears that these things are hosted on 3rd party web servers that are in no way shape or form capable of dealing with Facebook grade bandwidth onslaught. So the choice now seems to be reduced to either using a popular app which is consistently down due to a unintentional DDOS, or a more obscure one that has no active users. I’d rather have basic no-frills functionality than a feature rich environment that doesn’t work, or lacks users.
By liberating the course tracking functionality, Facebook essentially killed the whole idea of easily connecting with your classmates that made their social network so popular and quickly adopted. Yes, I do understand that the network is not just for college students anymore, but that is no reason to remove the functionality that attracted students to this network in the first place. Welcome to Myspace 2.0 kids. That’s where Facebook is heading.
[tags]facebook, courses, facebook courses, social, social networks[/tags]