Why Facebook is not suited for learning

Recall and memory are vital parts of learning. If you only have a vague memory of something, you need to revisit the source of information. And this is where Facebook fails.

Facebook is very much a stream service that lives in the present with extremely limited access to the past. The philosophy behind this is “read it and forget it”, which is fine when you’re only following latest happenings and then drop the subject. However, despite the earlier hype around Facebook’s new messaging system that claimed to preserve people’s messages “forever” this has not materialised for the users.

Facebook may store your messages forever, and even sell information on to third parties, but it does not provide easy access to the message owners. The search function in Facebook is simply abysmal. Typing in ‘ebooks’ returned a paragraph from Wikipedia. Looking for a posting I made earlier, returned a negative result:

And yet, here it was only a short time ago:

Facebook posting

To be fair, searching short status messages as are used in Facebook or Twitter isn’t easy. The text limitations are such that people have to restrict the semantic message to a minimum, there are no meta-tags or even titles to search for. And no-one is likely to enter “bit.ly/jJKry3” into the search box to be able to find an item.

There is also no hording place or personal archive where to collect interesting infos or messages – like Twitter favorites. This lack of information management reduces Facebook to what it was originally intended for – a social chat engine!


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