I find myself using Facebook a lot more lately – there seem to be a growing mass of people I interact with regularly doing their online hanging out there.
Peter Brantley has a nice post in the O’Reilly Radar on the use of Facebook by grad students.
What I learned, and what was new to me, was just how intrinsic the use of Facebook is today among younger scholars – grad students and junior faculty – in their scholarship and teaching. Facebook, for now, is often the place where they work, collaborate, share, and plan. Grad students may run student projects using Facebook groups; they may communicate amongst each other in inter-institutional (multi-university) research projects; they may announce speakers and special events to their communities.
I think Peter is right on the money when he lists the characteristics that make Facebook a success:
the sense of community; user control over the boundedness of openness; support for fine grained privacy controls; the ability to form ad-hoc groups with flexible administration; integration and linkage to external data resources and application spaces through a liberal and open API definition; socially promiscuous communication