Academic “Social Network Sites”: Very Preliminary Impressions

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I have recently registered in three social network sites that were discussed in the listserv of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), the three being Pronetos, Academici, and LinkedIn, two of which are primarily for academics. My initial, admittedly superficial reaction was: “Web 2.0 is a good place to be lonely, if you’re an anthropologist”. In Pronetos, I am the only anthropologist, and in fact I had to create the anthropology discipline so that I could join it–and I reign in that kingdom in glorious solitude, talking to myself (as I am accustomed). In Academici, I cannot find other anthropologists, nor in LinkedIn where I cannot even find other academics, of any discipline, from my home institution (Concordia University, Montreal).

My thoughts on the subject of academic social network sites is that in fact they are not new, and not “2.0”. What these sites mentioned above appear to be is code in search of community–the site, and its fundamental design and structure, its unilaterally imposed constraints in other words, precede the entry of academics. At least this is how it seems to me. Older forms of academic social networks were and are networks of shared interests in search of a code–typically these were, and still are, the many and very heavily populated listservs. There is no need for Facebook and LinkedIn, not really, not when Google can list your Faculty webpage. There also are membership directories of the various professional associations to which academics belong. Put all of those together and there is really little reason not to be able to locate and interact with another academic. Moreover, it sometimes helps to get an introduction by a mutual associate, so that simply cohabiting a social network site may not be in tune with academic cultures.

For now, I am leaving my profiles within those sites, merely as business cards of sorts.

16 thoughts on “Academic “Social Network Sites”: Very Preliminary Impressions

  1. Nice post. I’ve had similar frustrations as a political scientist. I’d say that these sites can “lower transaction costs” in the parlance of economists thereby making it easier to connect with other academics. But the fact that so few are taking advantage of the code supports your argument.

    Jose

  2. Nice post. I would like to add your academic network list, Sciweavers.org.
    Sciweavers is a free academic social network that enables researchers to discover, learn, discuss, and share links to their academic contributions and research materials such as publications, source code, presentations, tutorials, lecture notes, books, datasets, research news, and much more!. Sciweavers helps researchers to improve their research time by using thumbnail based search, increase their presence on search engines for every URL they share, gain more visibility in their community, shed more light on their work, get in touch with the latest state-of-the-art techniques in their research area, collaborate with other professionals in their field, and get online help from the pioneers and talented peers. In addition to that, Sciweavers implements the standard social network features such as share with friends, add to favorite, vote, discuss, user activity, cloud tagging, etc.

  3. Thanks oash. I will have to take a look at the site. There are a few more academic ‘social networking’ type sites, but I have not kept up to date or tried to prepare a comprehensive list. Basically I am feeling stretched and unable to even remember to login regularly to all the sites I belong to, and in some cases I simply forget the login information I used as a result of time passing.

  4. Thanks for visiting and commenting Su,

    I just looked again at sciweavers.org and it looks like a really great site. The problem might be that people are becoming overly networked. I set up accounts in linkedin and several other academic network sites, and never made/found the time to go back in, and in some cases I no longer have the right login information. It seems like too much to manage, and not of obvious benefit.

    By the way, both you and “oash” above you have some very nice websites of your own.

  5. ya I too agree its becoming too much of networking :( might be something like igoogle or meebo for msgrs is needed for nwing site as well..where u can login in one place and ur loging ids/passwds for all nw sites will be stored there (only obvly if we trust them…to put our user id and password there) and there in one single window we will get snippet of all our nwing sites …and ya..the question till remains open do we really need so much of nwing…over inter net?
    btw thanks for vising my web site. :)

  6. At a site called http://www.sci-mate.org, we are trying to offer researchers Web 2.0 tools without the time wasting aspect of ‘social networking’. Wikis modified for research purposes, for instance, act as a pre-publishing tool; and an eBay like exchange platform allows researchers to swap tools and list technology for commercial development. Nothing to it, but to do it.

  7. Good post. I recently came across a academic social bookmarking site made for University students and professors. It is still small but has some great features and looks to be a promising place to find other people interested in similar academic areas. The site is Brainify.com, maybe you will be able to find some other anthropologists. Good luck!

  8. Jared – I took a look at Brainify. This is what I have been looking for. Thanks! It seems to focus on building an academic community for students and professors (university-level) centered on a library of academic web resources which are added to by the members.

    Beautiful!

    -MF

  9. Hi folks, interesting discussion. I’m looking for the right academic networking site (I’ve been out of the field for a while and am looking to reconnect). I do sociolinguistics / Foucauldian discourse analysis. I’ve looked at researchgate which has some powerful search and connect facilities but seems to have more hard science than is useful for me. Any suggestions?

    Thanks
    Joannah

  10. Hey guys,

    If you are looking for a great academic social network, I suggest you stop by http://www.geazle.com. A web site that gears toward those in the STEM disciplines. However, anyone is welcome if learning is at his/her best interest. It is not there to duplicate what is already in existence rather to foster intellectual conversation about things that matter in the world. I have enjoyed it and I hope you will. It is new; however it has the face of the academic world.

  11. Be sure to check out http://www.coursecracker.com, it’s an academic social networking site with a unique structure and also offers blackboard-like features for educators to manage their classes and keep in touch with students.

    The site is brand new and in the final stages of development, definitely worth signing up and checking back in on as membership and new features expand.

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