Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I’ve been thinking a lot about social networks — or trying to. I’ve just not gotten enough sustained time to really put any thing down on paper. This morning I’m waking up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which is great. I just jumped in my little car and drove over, yesterday afternoon, taking a meandering array of back roads to get here.
While scanning through my aggregator this morning, I ran across something that looks about as close to what I’m thinking about as ALMOST anything I’ve seen so far. It’s The Graduate Junction, which I learned about through this Wired Campus article. In the article, the products developer, Daniel M. Colgate, answers some questions about Grad Junction, saying about Facebook,
It is already so big, and nobody I know would consider putting a technical keyword into the groups search there. I have discussed using Facebook groups with many friends and contacts, and they agree with me: It is just too big to be useful. They would prefer a more focused academic site. ((Fischman, Josh. “Networking, but Not Intimidating, Graduate Students.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 13 Aug 2008 14 Aug 2008 <http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3242&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en>. ))
I would tend to agree, though I’m also interested in other limitations of these canned networks. Anyway, according to the tour of Graduate Junction, you share through your network profile your research interests, publications you have, specific research skills you’ve acquired, professional associations, research links, and general notes added to your research blog. ((“Tell the World.” The Graduate Junction. The Graduate Junction. 14 Aug 2008 <http://www.graduatejunction.com/site/tour1>. ))
Through the Network, members can,
- Search to find researchers who share your research interests
- Discuss and exchange useful information via email
- Create virtual ‘Research Links’ to bookmark the research profiles you are interested in
- Join existing online research groups or create your own. Communicate online using Group forums
- Broaden your horizons by widening your interests ((“Get Connected.” The Graduate Junction. The Graduate Junction. 14 Aug 2008 <http://www.graduatejunction.com/site/tour2>. ))
It’s still a container, but I like the dedicated way that it provokes connections between researchers. I’m looking for a way to make this happen among educators, who almost by definition, are isolated.