March 1, 2009

Academic Social Media Part 1

Those who think that Social Networks and Online Communities are only for geeks and the youth have it wrong. The use of Social Media becomes more and more adopted not only by businesses as part of their commercial strategy but also by larger segments of professionals (and any other segment of networked citizens) as a way to stay in touch, manage or make new contacts. Most of us are already members of Plaxo, Facebook or LinkedIn; such platforms offer also the possibility to become members of special interest groups, online professional associations or even part of your university alumni network.
We scholars are mostly not the first to adopt trendy behaviors but it seems that the academia will not escape the social media hype after all. I have written earlier about the disappointing attitude of Universities in the design of their web sites. Yet I see recently University web sites reluctantly placing blogs in their menu, a good sign of improvement; I think that learning how our multi-tasking students use the new media will help universities to better understand their markets and start designing better, interactive sites.
There is however a growing number of social networking sites especially designed for helping academics to stay in touch and share knowledge and research interests. As many times is the case one of my students sent me an interesting link where I could make a start in exploring this new phenomenon. More about it in my next post.