I won’t gloat, but students and I were addressing the matter of universities controlling the cultural discussions a few years ago with The Lodge, and the matter crops up now and then when an unsanctioned voice gets the access to the megaphone. Here it is in Ohio:
COLUMBUS: Ohio State University said Monday it will allow postings on its Facebook page that don’t always paint the university in a positive light.
Last week, the university deleted comments by a graduate student who asked about OSU President E. Gordon Gee’s service on the board of an energy company criticized by environmentalists.
After deleting the postings, Ohio State then blocked comments of any kind from appearing on the wall of the university’s Facebook page.
The university, the country’s largest, reopened the wall Friday to all posts. University spokesman Jim Lynch said Monday that Ohio State may not have responded appropriately to the initial posting about Gee.
”It’s a new feature and it’s a learning curve,” Lynch said. ”We’re willing to take the bad with the good.”
Not that we’ve come much further than Ohio has in the 3 years since The Lodge; we still want to control the exchange – not quite trusting others to think well of us.
But it’s not a learning curve issue, either, not really. There’s nothing really new at Ohio. Scoble and Israel gave mainstream attention to the matter back in 2006. Richard Lanham takes it up in The Economics of Attention (especially in chapter 6: “Barbie and the Teacher of Righteousness”). I’ll be adding a unit on Controlling the Conversation to E-Rhetoric for 2010. It’s even discussed in a PR piece in a MindJet newletter – in PR terms – and with a poster!
Ohio, however, gets the jump on the rest of the universities because they had the epiphany. There’s an article in it, Mr. Lynch. Go for it.
Reportedly, “Ohio State’s Facebook page had more than 21,000 friends Monday afternoon.” That’s a lot of support. It’s easy enough to let fans sort out the good and the poor for themselves.