Social networks for the professions

Social networking is not just the province of young people talking about music on MySpace. It is rapidly becoming an important Web 2.0 tool for professionals to stay in touch and collaborate with the members of their various communities of interest and practice. Here are just a few.

Nature Network

Nature Network is an online meeting place scientists to gather, talk and find out about the latest scientific news and events. Science is an international endeavor and deserves a global stage for discussion. Scientists can also benefit from interactions at the local level, which is why Nature Network has local city hubs. As with other social network sites, there are many interactive services:

  • Create your own personal profile page and describe yourself and your research.
  • Set up a group for your lab, department, institution or topic.
  • Join and have discussions with group members.
  • Build your own online network of like-minded people.
  • Discuss what's going on in your field; post comments on other people's blogs.
  • Search and browse the listing of all upcoming seminars and conferences.
  • Read the latest news, views and historical insights and then write comments.
  • Browse local jobs listings.

The website is published at: http://network.nature.com/


The combination of scientific knowledge and experience is the key success factor for biomedical research projects. Bringing the right researchers together and allowing them to grow their professional network is the ultimate goal of biomedexperts (BME) - a social networking platform for the life-science research community. The comprehensive system of pre-populated expert profiles, coupled with the ability to analyze all associated professional connections within the co-author network, allows scientists and researchers across organizations the ability to share data and collaborate in ways never before considered. The website is published at: http://www.biomedexperts.com/

SciTechNet(sm): Science and Technology Social Networking Services

SciTechNet(sm) is a blog that collects social networking sites in the Sciences and Technology. It is published at: http://scitechnet.blogspot.com/

Friends:Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services

This blog is devoted to the use of online social networking sites for any and all types of library-related programs or services. Maintained by Gerry McKiernan, Iowa State University Library, it is published at:http://onlinesocialnetworks.blogspot.com/


Tribal tension and human pyramids of hope

Since I left Kenya on January 15, the situation has worsened. It is such a shame that ethnic relations in the country, once the shining example of peaceful co-existence in Africa, are deteriorating so rapidly.

There is no need for this tribal violence in Kenya. But there is hope:

Human Pyramide is a peace effort of African Acrobats http://www.nafsiafriacrobats.org/ from different tribes showing that peace and cooperation in Kenya is possible.

If you want to give Kenyans a hand in this hard times please go to http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?HelpKenyans

WorkNets surveys the different ways that "independent thinkers" around the world are helping Kenyans in this time of crisis.

More on Kenya.


Perspectives on online learning

www.firstmonday.org has published a paper that adds theoretical perspectives to the discussion about online learning, or e-learning - "Theories and models of and for online learning"

The authors of the paper see changes in teaching and learning emerging from the nexus of a changing landscape of information and communication technologies, an active and motivated teaching corps that has worked to derive new approaches to teaching, an equally active and motivated learning corps that has contributed as much to how to teach online as they have to how to learn while online, with others, and away from a campus setting. We see the need for, and the emergence of, new theories and models of and for the online learning environment, addressing learning in its ICT context, considering both formal and informal learning, individual and community learning, and new practices arising from technology use in the service of learning.

This paper presents six theoretical perspectives on learning in ICT contexts, and is an invitation to others to bring theoretical models to the fore to enhance our understanding of new learning contexts.

The full paper can be downloaded at: http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue12_8/haythorn/

And here's a video with a student's perspective of online learning:

Go to About-eLearning.com for more on e-learning


OpenLearn - new study materials for 2008

The open educational resources movement has received a further boost now that OpenLearn has made some new study materials available for 2008.

Since 1969, The Open University has been a pioneer in making learning materials freely available through its successful partnership with the BBC. Many of the television and radio programmes are already supported by free internet activities and print materials. OpenLearn , which started in 2005 with a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, has continued and extended this vision.
"We wanted to use our knowledge of the latest technologies in education to extend our mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. The vision was free online education."

The following are the new study units for January:

More about Open Educational Resources.


Social entrepreneurs tackling social problems

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps. Here are three social entrepreneur web sites:

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public is the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs — men and women with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Since 1981, Ashoka has elected over 1,800 leading social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries. Ashoka's Fellows inspire others to adopt and spread their innovations - demonstrating to all citizens that they too have the potential to be powerful changemakers.

Changemakers focuses on social innovation. It describes solutions and resources needed to help people become changemakers and presents stories that explore the fundamental principles of successful social innovation around the world. Changemakers is building an online "open source" community that competes to surface the best social solutions, and then collaborates to refine, enrich, and implement those solutions. The online Changemakers's community identifies and selects the solutions and helps refine them. Changemakers's Idea Reviewers are regular contributors of commentary and analysis that ensure lively and rich online discussion. It is an initiative of Ashoka.

Social Edge is a global online community where social entrepreneurs and other practitioners of the social benefit sector connect to network, learn, inspire and share resources. It was launched in June 2003 with the mission to:
  • Connect social entrepreneurs, their partners and allies to discuss cutting-edge issues shaping the field;
  • Foster frank dialogue, mutual respect and a sense of community among all in the sector;
  • Promote learning from the best, promising and disastrous practices.
The Social Edge site strikes a balance between the visionary and the practical, with its spirited discussions and online workshops and features.

More on social entrepreneurs.


The Participative Web: Policies and best practices

Using an expanding array of intelligent Web 2.0 services and applications, a rapidly increasing number of people and organisations are creating, distributing and exploiting user-created content (UCC) and being part of the wider participative web. What are the policy implications and what are the best practices for NGOs wishing to participate?

The book "Participative Web and User-Created Content: Web 2.0, Wikis and Social Networking" describes the rapid growth of UCC and its increasing role in worldwide communication, and draws out implications for policy. Questions addressed include: What is user-created content? What are its key drivers, its scope and different forms? What are the new value chains and business models? What are the extent and form of social, cultural and economic opportunities and impacts? What are the associated challenges? Is there a government role, and what form could it take?

You can access this PDF e-book free online.

In his post to Social Signal, Alexandra Samuel lists six "Best practices for non-profits using web 2.0":

  1. Focus your site on a particular goal or conversation, rather than a general topic.
  2. Invite your community to make contributions other than money, e.g., asking them to share their personal experiences.
  3. Succeeding in an internetworked environment means working effectively with others, collaborating, and interacting, e.g., engaging with conversations and ideas on other blogs.
  4. Don't feel that Web 2.0 means building your own online community - use existing web tools, e.g, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube.
  5. Remember that for organizations that have been all about the message, it is a frightening adventure to bring your audience into the conversation in public.
  6. Stay current with how other non-profits are using Web 2.0, and learn from their experiences.

More on Web 2.0 and participation


Back from Kenya

Apologies for the long break between this and my last post. I have just returned from five weeks in Kenya. Given all the turmoil there, access for blogging via Internet Cafes proved to be difficult. My partner (who is Kenyan) and I felt it prudent to remain indoors for much of the time after a rather scary time in the midst of the trouble at Christmas time.

However, it is precisely at times of crisis like this one that the Internet proves to be so useful as a communication tool, whether through blogs, emails or YouTube (as below).

Ushahidi.com is a website that is using Web 2.0 to good effect to promote awareness of the acts of violence in Kenya in the post-election times. "Ushahidi" means witness. People can report an incident that they have seen, and after verification it will be posted on a map-based view for others to see. Ushahidi is working with local Kenyan NGO’s to get information and to verify each incident.

The verified incidents are mapped using Google mapping software, so that the user can zoom in or out, and can see maps, satellite photos, or both. It has been suggested that this technology, which is deliberately simple, could be a model for similar websites serving other countries with communal violence.

More on Kenya.


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