Facebook and The [Student] Interest Graph

For those not currently in college or avid readers of AllFacebook.com, Zuck’s social network recently released Groups for Schools, a new way for students to participate in groups built around their classes, clubs, school years, etc.

When it first came out, I’ll admit I was a bit annoyed — I’m now a part of about 10 new groups including Events and Parties, Class of 2013, Startups, Advertising, Interactive/Digital Media, to name a few.  ”This is gonna create so much noise,” I thought.

Then something funny started happening.  I found other students on my campus who we’re also interested in the same things I was, namely: Startups, Advertising, and Interactive/Digital Media.  People I had never met on my campus had started to step forward to express their love for all these topics.

Prior to these groups, I had always found Boston University to be an extremely un-entrepreneurial school with very few digitally forward thinking students (compared to Harvard, MIT, Babson, and Northeastern). But Facebook had helped me unearth something — people similar to me, and even better, tied to my location. Sure, I had known a few folks, but I never realized there more of us than the vocal few.

Things I never would have been able to accomplish on my own started to develop:

  • A group of students interested in taking a field trip to TechStars Boston’s Demo Day
  • A group of students interested in setting up weekly workshops in areas like Google AdWords, logo design, and website building
  • A group students interested in laying the groundwork in building an incubator program/think tank at BU (the first project were working on can be found here)

You see, Facebook may have created these groups to get back to their roots as a network for college students, but the byproduct they created is far more valuable.  Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy has been to make the world more open and connected – the new Groups for School feature has actually made our college campus more connected than BU ever could. It has tied students not only by their academic affiliation, but also their common interests.

Boston University has actually tried to take our largely fragmented campus and unite it across schools to create “One BU.”  So far it’s been taking a lot longer than it should (as anything in academia typically does).  That’s what makes Facebook’s acceleration of this seemingly impossible vision all the more amazing.

I have some predictions of what this means for Facebook, but I’ll save that for another post.