February 22, 2007
Momentary Community Arises Around Facebook Group to Raise a Student's Grade in Econ

One of the most interesting ad-hoc communities I've seen develop as of late was this group I was invited to join a couple of weeks ago (look here). You've probably seen this phenomenon before, where people just try to get others to join a group for some supposed benefit, in this case getting a million people to join the group by 10 February 2007 so that his economics professor will raise his grade from a 79.4 average to a B-.

The person who set up the group said the last ditch effort was "a deal with the devil" designed to "keep my dreams of Law school alive." The digg for the link was included on the group site here, and the group got up to several thousand members.

What fascinates me, though, is that there are no administrators left for the group, that the group was supposed to disband on 10 February 2007, but that it still has 59,618 members and continued posts written on the wall every day. There were two posts on the wall today, for a total of 2,497 total so far, and 36 discussion topics within the group, including one with 449 posts called "I can't believe this guy got a C in Econ!!???"

The group also has 56 posted pictures, including a lot of personal art, pictures of several cars, a picture of Jesus with a glowing heart, flying cats, aircraft, heavy machinery, billboards, and even a sequential striptease by a girl in a schoolgirl outfit that subsequently appears to have been pulled.

The members of the group and the conversation has occurred by high school and college students around the country, starting in January, and one of the posts started with a discussion about the pitiful grade in econ and subsequently launched into a debate of religion and science that got really heated.

It's worth spending a few minutes flipping through, as it exists now as an archive of a short-term phenomenon, an ephemeral base of discussion that is already dying in activity but that contained a lot of momentary creativity, intellect, chaos, and heated debate in the few weeks that it was up, little of it related in any way to the topic that was intended to be discussed.

In the process, high school students, undergrads, and graduate students are collaborating, sharing, discussing, and dissing from across the country. What does this mean for "convergence culture?" I wanted to bring it to everyone's attention just to show the non-commercial nature of many of these relationships, the relational, connected, and timely ways these groups spring up quickly and then slowly taper off, and the way that people's creativity is there, beneath the surface, and ready to be shared in a communal space like this, if they just have an activator.

Are these works of art? Of course not. But this became a site for quirky debates, photos, cynical commentary, etc., in relation to this particular moment, and the site remains as a way to think about how Facebook, MySpace, and these random groups function in people's lives and why people are attracted to joining and contributing to them.

For a related point, see this post from January about "fans of the quotidian."