Facebook is moving towards irrelevance. OK, the numbers may not back up this assertion (see Facebook dethroning Google as the No. 1 site over Christmas). But Facebook is increasingly irrelevant to my world in educational technology.
David Carr of the NYTimes wrote on New Year's Day about why Twitter is supplanting Facebook and RSS feeds as his news radar and quick communications channel.
For a time we all thought (at least I thought) that it was necessary to connect our learning technologies with Facebook. We debated about how our LMS systems could mimic the social nature of Facebook, including presence awareness and informal collaboration. The integration of Blackboard and Facebook with the Sync application seemed to be an exciting development.
Facebook also seemed like it was an emerging as an important work tool. Over the past couple of years many of my colleagues, both past and present, begin posting status updates on their Facebook pages. Facebook seemed like a way to easily connect and keep up with colleagues.
But nowadays I hardly ever go on Facebook anymore. TheTwitter, bit.ly combination has turned into the perfect tool to easily share and comment on whatever I'm reading about in our discipline. It takes almost no more time or steps to share what I'm reading, watching, writing or thinking about - as these activities are almost all done online and bit.ly does the work of writing much of my post and providing the link (the bit.ly Bookmarklet is a great tool).
As I've started to use Twitter to connect with my learning technology community this network has started to grow and strengthen. As of now I follow 247 people/organizations on Twitter, and have 153 followers (you can find me here). Save for one or two people, all the people that I follow center around learning technology, social media, and innovation in higher education. The hashtags I follow (see this list for some great educational hashtags) are also essential for staying part of the conversation. And we all know how important Twitter has become in preparing for and participating in professional conferences.
Twitter is relevant, even increasingly essential, for our professional learning technology world because the tool facilitates both easy communication and discovery. Facebook, by contrast, seems to be moving increasingly towards a social platform designed to show-off how clever one can be in writing a status update. On Twitter, if you curate your "follow" list actively, tweets are about work. I can dip into the Twitter stream to see what articles, blog posts, presentations, videos, products, or news that my community of practice is interested in.
Yes, Twitter needs to get its infrastructure issues straightened out. I'm hoping that Twitter figures out a way to make money so it can build and fund a better back-end. I do think the money will come, as the data on the what professional communities are interested in is incredibly valuable. Facebook seems cluttered with irrelevant ads and personal information that I don't care about. The bottom line is that Facebook is moving toward irrelevancy as a professional communications tool just as Twitter is becoming indispensable.
What do you think? Has Facebook "jumped the shark"? Will Twitter grow into an essential collaboration tool? If Twitter is so important as a professional communications tool shouldn't we be thinking about incorporating Twitter into our course design and class interactions?