Facebook Docs: Not actually designed with students in mind

Microsoft Docs, the half-Office, half Facebook application, was not actually designed with students in mind. A quick Q&A with the head of the FUSE labs team

When two things go together seemingly so well, you question as to why they haven't happened sooner. Take chocolate and peanut butter. Nobody would have thought that would work until somebody went and did it.

Facebook and Office may not seem like a likely collaboration, but indeed it has become so. Though, one major drawback, after speaking to Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs, which built the Facebook-come-Office application, is that even though Facebook has exploded with students worldwide, they were not a major consideration in the demographic of users.

Que the Q&A (Intended pun).

How did Docs begin?

"We started working on this in January, and one of the reasons Docs.com happened is because our small team moved very quickly to create the Docs for Facebook application. In seeing Docs, they thought it might be good for us to try out some of the API’s there were developing in January for the f8 conference, and we quickly started working on this, gave Facebook feedback – and worked with them to make sure that the API’s worked, and worked for our Docs scenario".

Did Docs and the API's become a mutual beneficiary to each other?

"Facebook didn’t create their API’s specifically for Docs or Microsoft. They did want to make sure their API’s supported the kinds of things we were doing in Docs though".

Has Docs been designed to be student friendly, and any plans to integrate as part of Live@edu?

"It would be a good idea. That said, it’s still early, and so our first goal with the Docs beta is to see how people Facebook users use Docs. At this time we don’t have anything to announce about how this might relate to Live@edu. We are excited about how people of all ages have begun to mix work/school and social time.".

That, translating to non-PR speak means both, "it wasn't designed specifically with students in mind" and "it has not been a project brewing for Live@edu, and will probably remain an independent, non-Live@edu project".

How has Docs attempted to integrate as part of the wider Facebook experience?

"We really thought about the design of Docs from the perspective of the Facebook user. In fact, we modelled Docs after the photo experience in Facebook.  So for example, asking ourselves how do sharing terms match what I see in Facebook, and how can we really streamline the experience to keep sharing very very simple - and how can we visually design the Docs work well within Facebook- as well as on the Doc.com site?".

Throw me a bone here. Give me something to work with.

"One thing we’ve noticed is communication, especially with students - it's more real-time and informal. And given the web, you don’t start with a blank page.  We think about what this might mean for creating documents; for example you might start creating a document with something more fun and personal than a blank page, or a different set of templates to give you ideas on what to create and share with friends. This is just one area we’d like to look at in the future".

If I'm completely honest, after my post late last week in regards to Facebook content remaining on their servers even after the user deletes it, anything to do with the social networking site frankly depresses me. In all seriousness, it truly brings me down. For that reason, I'd be more than happy to stick to my desktop Office applications and the old-school emailing of documents, frankly.

Happy Monday to you too. Eurgh.


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