| STANFORD, California
STANFORD, California Stanford students can try
to borrow a Web page from a Harvard dropout this year thanks to
a course in building software for Facebook, the wildly popular
"This is a class for people who want to create start-ups,"
said Dave McClure, a high-tech entrepreneur and one of two
instructors for the class. "Facebook is more of a lab
environment for figuring out how to build those start-ups."
Stanford, situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, appears
to be the first university to offer a class on developing
applications for Facebook, which is based in nearby Palo Alto.
Initial enrolment for the class was more than double what the
classroom could hold.
Facebook, founded in 2004 by then-undergraduate Mark
Zuckerberg as a socializing site for fellow Harvard students,
is now the ninth-most-trafficked U.S. site, according to Web
measurement firm Hitwise Inc. It counts 43 million users, up 80
percent in just the past four months, and 200,000 more join
"The class is about how to build an engaging application
and attract users," said Josh Liptzin, a Stanford senior
majoring in computer science and co-founder of
collegewikis.com, who has signed up for the course.
Liptzin has been developing Web sites since high school and
his computer science classes have focused almost entirely on
programming. He thinks the business and entrepreneurial aspects
of the Facebook course are equally important.
McClure and co-instructor BJ Fogg, director of Stanford's
Persuasive Technology Lab, convened the first full class
session on Thursday, with Fogg using handheld chimes and a
ukulele for crowd control,
Discussion centred on the social significance on Facebook
of voyeurism among site members, the ways they seek to express
themselves, the credibility that members have with one another,
and the resulting business opportunities.
"There's no one more employable right now than someone who
can program in Facebook," said Rodney Rumford, publisher of
FaceReviews.com, a blog that tracks and provides commentary on
The instructors plan to divide students into groups of
three. Over the course of the next three months, these student
groups must create two Web-based software applications: a
program of general interest to Facebook users, and something
that can harness Facebook as a learning tool.
They will be graded, in part, on the number of people who
use their application.
"We don't want people to read case studies, we want people
to build case studies," McClure said in an interview.
The Stanford class will delve more into user engagement
theory, project management and marketing, its organizers said.
Facebook boasts that it has an 85 percent penetration rate
among U.S. university students, while its fastest-growing
demographic is people over the age of 25.
(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in San Francisco,
editing by Braden Reddall)