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Research Report by Katia Nierle

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Research Report: Using Facebook to Communicate


By Katia Nierle, Romeo and Juliet: A Facebook Tragedy


Abstract:  Facebook is an online community that connects people to each other.  Once a person belongs to a network on facebook, endless possibilities for interacting with people in that network open up; the networks reflect real life communities and one can meet people online who live or work in the same area, or who have the same interests.


Description:  Facebook was created to provide people with an easy way to keep up with friends and meet new people by contacting them online.  The only requirement to join Facebook is a valid email address.  Once you register with your email address, you can join different networks that apply to you, such as schools, work, and/or location, and find others on that network to communicate with. 


Facebook has a lot of privacy options that you can apply to your personal page, protecting you from online fraud.  For example, a person has to virtually ask another to be their friend, and once the friend is 'confirmed' by the other their pages are open to each other; people can only see profiles of confirmed friends, or of people whose profiles are public.  You can also choose how much of your page is open for specific people to view. 


Another feature of Facebook is the use of applications; each person can choose applications to add to their page.  These applications are diverse and eclectic, ranging from serious ("Causes") to ordinary ("Top Friends") to just-for-fun ("What Type of Bagel Are You?").  Looking at someone's page, you can see from their applications and personal information what they are like, and whether you would like to get to know them. 


A useful feature of Facebook is that you sign up with your real name, so that there is no chatroom-like deception or dishonesty.  Facebook pages also have a feature called "The Wall," which is basically a message board that mixes email and instant messaging for easy communication between people.  Each user can write only on their friends' walls, leaving messages that only their friend and his friends can see.  More personal notes can be sent using the "Message" feature, which is essentially email.  Users can thus talk to each other with varying levels of privacy, depending on what is appropriate. 


Facebook users can upload photos onto their page.  As long as the photos do not contain nudity, users are nearly unrestrained in their choice of photos. While photos are obviously not a necessary part of your page, and can be omitted if you so choose, they offer a fun way for users to interact with each other's pages and to define their own page. 


Users can also add themselves to interest groups.  These can be anything from political affiliations and favorite sports teams to favorite foods and inside jokes, offering a plethora of options for users to choose from and a cornucopia of interesting and fun coteries.  Users can write on the groups' walls and post photos just as on their own page. 


Commentary:  Facebook is an interesting way to model a Shakespeare text because of its focus on characters and interpersonal relationships.  We can use the various applications and features of Facebook to model each character's personality, which the play itself does not delve into. 


The dialogue between characters in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet gives us an indication of how each character thinks and envisions himself; we are going further and using more than dialogue via Facebook to accomplish the same thing.  Using clues from the text's dialogue to give us insights into each character's personal life, we can recreate the characters virtually on a Facebook network and have these virtual characters interact with one another. 


Facebook is a relevant program to use because we are attempting to modernize the characters and create them as they might be today. Romeo, Juliet, Benvolio, etc. are all in an age group that, today, is very active in online communication; if the characters had been living in today's age, they would almost certainly have Facebook pages to communicate with each other.  Facebook would especially help Romeo and Juliet acquaint themselves with one another, and would serve as a convenient way for the Montagues and the Capulets to bond more closely within themselves.


Resources for Further Study: 

Zuckerberg, Mark.   Facebook. February 2004.  http://www.facebook.com.

Yadav, Sid.  "Facebook - The Complete Biography".  August 2006.  http://mashable.com/2006/08/25/facebook-profile/.

Stone, Brad.  "Facebook."  December 2007.   http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/facebook_inc/index.html.

"Facebook."  http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook.

"Top 100 Tools: Facebook."  2007.  http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/Top100Tools/facebook.html.


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