- Facebook helps people find people
- scientists need to find people therefore it obviously follows that scientists need Facebook
- so...people want to build a "Facebook for scientists"
- quick room survey exposes that some people use science-specific social networks but almost entirely Nature Network
- two issues in usefulness for any social network: critical mass and features
- Facebook was built around a pre-existing community (Harvard undergrads) but people tend to forget
- Twitter is standout network that launched on the world without a pre-existing community
- myExperiment paid people to put stuff on site
- FriendFeed is relevant for filtering; if people like/comment that item keeps coming to top
- also useful for finding people with expertise
- FriendFeed pulls in *everything* friends do online, so recipe for disaster: blog, Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Twitter, etc.
- Nature Network more like a group of scientists socializing than a social network for scientists
- fatal flaws I: social networks rely on network effects; no members means no network; if I arrive and no one else is there why come back?; must provide up front value - solve a problem I know I have
- only a few of the current offerings do this
- social networks have histories going back to usenet days
- serendipitous discovery on Google extremely useful
- do we need social networks for scientists or just use existing such as LinkedIn?
- CiteULike, Connotea do something better for scientists than Delicious
- several people use FriendFeed to find others' CiteULike
- branding as MySpace-like or Facebook-like for scientists backfired
- may not need to know you have a problem but still needs to solve; barrier for most people is need to do something
- fatal flaws II: scientists not very social; looking for solutions, not people; data finds data, people find people
- five guidelines for online services:
1. tool must solve problem and solution must fit what you're doing
2. tool must outperform existing tools
3. must be near 100% reliability
4. provide at least one killer feature
- need to be able to take data out when you want to leave or network shuts down
- site also can't claim copyright on your data/input/contributions
- BiomedExperts did a good job of prepopulating using existing connections via literature citations
- Ravelry for knitters, crocheters
- very much like science in that people connect via materials (yarns) and how they are used
- not necessarily connecting around people, but yarns, patterns, etc.
- large number of people, small number of items and agreed upon way of talking about - but this is not true for science/scientists
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
ScienceOnline'09: Social Networks for Scientists
The final session of the day I attended was on social networks for scientists. As someone who has not embraced most social networks (exceptions being LibraryThing and LinkedIn), and recalling David's intro of BiomedExperts during a reference meeting last year, I was interested to see if the general audience felt that networks specifically for scientists were beneficial or redundant, and how/if they might be useful to our faculty, students and librarians. Cameron Neylon and Deepak Singh did a great job framing the discussion.