Our director of alumni communications and I just discussed the demise of our college yearbook. Student interest in developing the annual had waned, and when college staff tried to lead the effort, they didn’t find a lot of buyers. For us old-school writer/editor types, who view this as a historical record, this seems mystifying.
But then I realized, students already have their own yearbooks. Except the new yearbooks are dynamic (not static bound volumes), media-rich, fully interactive and they don’t cost students a penny. They’re called Facebook.
I graduated from a small high school, where our class of 86 students was unusually large. We scrawled (mostly) nice things about each other on yearbook pages and I packed the book away for only occasional reference. But what if I were already Facebook friends with all 85 classmates? Instead of having to refer to one photo of a club or athletic team, we could look back at photo galleries, events, groups or maybe even fan pages. At any time, we could interact on each others’ walls to say I miss you! or, more likely, Remember that crazy time in Mr. Tall’s class when [information redacted]?
As a one-stop snapshot, in a traditional paradigm, that yearbook seems hard to replace. But are today’s students interested in that lonely bound volume when an interactive and ever-evolving document, where new chapters are always added, is available? And especially with the crush of school budgets making it harder to produce yearbooks, are they bound to go the way of swallowing goldfish, sitting on flagpoles or pinning your best gal?
In short, will (or has) Facebook replace(d) the yearbook? And if so, are any other scholastic staples next? Feel free to scrawl your thoughts on this page! Hope we can be (Facebook) friends forever! – Tim