I’ve been ignoring Facebook for as long as I can. And most other social networking applications, too.

I already get several dozen e-mails a day. Add to that a dozen or so phone calls, voice mails and letters, and I begin feeling like I need to be less networked, not more.

But I finally sat down and looked at what the site has done with its publicly available APIs — programming features that let web developers like me build stuff on Facebook.

Yes, it is cool. Cooler than I’d imagined. It took me about three hours to slap together the Daily News’ first Facebook app. There’s definitely more to come in this area, because it looks like an amazing tool to get our journalism in front of more people.

For instance, our next app will probably let our citizen journalists automatically notify their Facebook friends when they’ve posted an article on our site. Our volunteers do some amazing reporting, and part of the fun of writing for us is sharing with your friends and neighbors. It seems like an excellent way to make sure our citizen journalists get the attention and admiration they deserve from their friends — and to push our traffic numbers ever higher.

We’re likely to put together something that allows Facebook users to show which Chicago neighborhood they’re in, along with a Google map of stories and events around them.

It’s also interesting to think about using Facebook as a model, rather than an API. In other words, can news sites become development platforms that others can use to build web apps that provide useful information?

I don’t have the answer to that question. But I’m sure one of my Facebook friends does.