April 1, 2009

Academic Social Media Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous post more and more Social Media applications appear online targeting academics, students or people interested in scientific work. One category of such applications are university web sites posting learning material online, a concept pioneered by the MIT and now becoming increasingly commonplace. Prestigious universities offer their courses in podcast formats. A good example is Stanford on iTunes U offering a wide range of Stanford digital audio content via the iTune store. There are also portals offering similar content: Academic Earth is a site presenting thousands of academic lectures in video from top scholars. A very nice way to advertise Universities and their products!

Other forms of Academic social Media are sites allowing the creation of personal profiles where the members can upload their slides presentations and find thousands of presentations of others. SlideShare is a well known example. There are also a few sites presenting overviews of theoretical approaches and models. I often use the site 12manage when I look for new or exotic theoretical frameworks, this site is quite uptodate. Some interaction is also possible, visitors can interact or post comments.

The third category of academic social media includes sites where academics / researchers can create personal profiles and upload their research work as well as find the work of others. Such sites are meant to promote scientific collaboration by creating online academic social networks but I am not sure if copyright conflicts will arise. Examples are LabMeeting targeting in principle the medical scientists, Mendeley, Academia and Questia that also has a special interest page in Facebook and also offers to its users a Twitter connection.

Which of these applications and many others with similar format will survive in the virtual knowledge marketplace remains to be seen. It seems that some of these approaches are interesting for schools and universities as marketing tools, allowing them to increase their online exposure and connect with the increasingly "Social Media-minded" public. I find the "switching cost" of using some of the applications high since it is required to register and download / link your papers when creating a profile. Maybe the Web 3.0 will make many of these things redundant, we have to wait and see.

p.s. my thanks to Remco van den Elzen for drawing my attention to this issue