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CS377W: Creating Engaging Facebook Apps

Stanford University Computer Science | Fall 2007 | 3-4 units
Class Meetings: Thursday 2:15-5:05
Optional Lab: Tuesday 2:15-4:05

Dr. BJ Fogg
Dave McClure
Dan Ackerman

Head TA
Yee Lee
Team Coach
Jia Shen
Team Coach
Robert Fan
Course Assistant
Greg Schwartz
Course Assistant
Dr. BJ Fogg Dave McClure Dan Ackerman Greenberg Yee Lee Jia Shen Robert Fan Greg Schwartz

We’re studying Facebook

The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab creates insight into how computing products — from websites to mobile phone software — can be designed to change what people believe and what they do. For that reason, we’re studying Facebook — it’s highly persuasive.

Facebook is a Persuasive Technology

In 2007 the most effective persuasive technology has been Facebook. People in our lab have researched persuasive technology since 1993, and we’ve found the fastest path to insight is studying what’s working best in the real world. Today’s Facebook experience has so many elements of persuasion, so we’ve decided to dive in deep. Our goal is to understand the psychology of Facebook. This page gives an initial overview of our project.

Stanford Course on Facebook

As part of our lab’s efforts, BJ Fogg is teaching a new course about Facebook this autumn, along with Dave McClure and Dan Ackerman Greenberg. You will find a description of our course, CS 377W, toward the bottom of this page. On Facebook itself you’ll find a group of over 300 people interested in our class.

Our Focus on the Psychology of Facebook

Our lab specializes in persuasion via technology, so this is naturally our focus when studying Facebook. We want to understand the how motivation and influence operate on Facebook. We’ll likely publish papers on this topic, but you won’t have to wait too long to learn more. As we discover new things we’ll write about some of them at our lab’s blog, the Captology Notebook. To get things started we’ll put a few of our initial posts at the bottom of this page soon.

Why Study Facebook?

Our current focus on Facebook extends research we did in 2006 on how Web 2.0 sites motivate and persuade people. Our investigations last year showed that every successful Web 2.0 company followed the same persuasion pattern; we outlined this pattern and called it the “Behavior Chain of Online Participation” (a journal article should be out in October). By looking at what works in the real world, we contributed new insights to captology, the study of computers as persuasive technology.

We don’t yet know what new insights we’ll gain by focusing on Facebook. But that’s what makes research fun: You don’t know for sure what you’ll discover.

Yet one thing seems clear: What we learn in this project will go beyond Facebook. To be sure, the psychology that drives Facebook relates directly to other online success stories, including those Internet blockbusters yet to be invented.

– BJ Fogg, Ph.D., & the Persuasive Technology Lab

Overview of Stanford Course

» Facebook is a Persuasive Technology

» Stanford Course on Facebook

» Our Focus on the Psychology of Facebook

» Why Study Facebook?

» Overview of Stanford Course