There's a post on Museums and Social Networking Sites that is nicely timed given the 'should museums be on Facebook' discussions on the UK Museums Computer Group and Museum Computer Network mailing lists. I particularly liked the following:
[M]useums that venture haphazardly into the wilderness of social networking sites may end up looking stiff and frozen. Institutions need to enter these spaces with firm answers to these questions:
- What audience(s) are we trying to reach, and why?
- What information do we want to convey to these people?
- What actions do we want them to take?
- Demographically, where do these constituents congregate online?
- Do these virtual spaces provide the tools that will allow us to circulate our message?
- Do the sites then provide ways for users to circulate our message without too much futher effort from us–that is, do the sites allow for percolation, or will our message merely appear for a moment and then pass quickly from users' radar?
I would add, is it an appropriate space for instutitions or is it a personal space?
The post also points out one of the major problems with Facebook groups that's been irritating me for a while – they don't notify you of new content, whether as an RSS feed, Facebook notification or in email. The Groups page doesn't even order groups by those with the most recent wall or discussion posts. No wonder groups languish on Facebook – most seem to collect members easily, but hardly anyone actually posts any content on them. There are always barriers to participation on social software or reasons why more people lurk than post, but if people don't know new content has been added, they'll never respond. It's a step backwards to the world of checking to see if sites have new content – who does that now we have RSS?
And just because I like it: when xkcd and wikipedia collide.