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Subject: Re: Scientific Networking
From: William Silvert <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 19 Nov 2009 19:36:53 -0000

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Many thanks to all of you who responded, both on and off list. I spent the 
afternoon trying out the various suggestions, and the best for my purposes 
seems to be which many people recommended.  The others seem to 
be suffering from newness and there were a number of inappropriate messages 
flying around. For example, on one list someone broadcast a message to the 
entire network of 14,000 saying "Can anybody help me?" without specifying 
what the field was, and I found myself getting messages not related to the 
groups I signed up with. Some  have a way to go before reaching critical 
size, for example the Fish Ecology group on ResearchGATE has 5 members. 
There is even a group for fans of a particular athlete, so it seems as 
though these networks have not progressed much beyond the Facebook model.

Unfortunately the academic orientation of some of these networks may 
discourage some scientists from joining. is strictly for 
academics, and while I qualify through minor affiliation with the University 
of the Algarve, a government scientist wrote me to say "I visited which looks interesting, but I am not currently an 
academic, so it didn't seem relevant."

Anyway I have signed up for these networks and if I learn anything of 
interest I will pass on the news. I can see a lot of potential value here, 
but unless the people you want to communicate with are members, there isn't 
much point.

Bill Silvert

PS - Here is something I found amusing. I own a small bistro which has its 
own email address, so to check the kind of messages that these networks send 
out when you recommend new members, I gave this address. Soon 
afterwards the message came through, "William Silvert added your name to, the global directory of academics and graduate students. We 
checked your department directory, and it looks like you are an 
academic/graduate student." I am sure that the bartender and waitress are 
very flattered (although since the name of the bistro is Centro de 
Investigação Gastronómica perhaps that was confusing!). Still, if a bistro 
can join, maybe you don't really have to be an academic.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: William Silvert
To: List FISHFOLK ; Scientific forum on fish and fisheries ; ECOLOG-L List
Sent: quinta-feira, 19 de Novembro de 2009 13:45
Subject: Scientific Networking

I've joined a few of the various social networks and find them of little 
professional value, although I have met up with some old friends and 
schoolmates. However it strikes me that this kind of networking could be of 
considerable value to scientists, and I am posting to enquire whether any 
suitable networks exist. It may of course be that I simply don't know how to 
use the networks I belong to.

It would be handy to be able to classify one's friends/colleagues by 
interest and to be able to post messages to various specific interest 
groups. This seems similar to the idea of lists on Facebook, but I have not 
yet found any way to send messages specifically to one or more of these 

Some of these interest groups already exist as formal groups of course, I am 
sure that there must be several organised groups dealing with climate 
change. On the other hand I doubt that there are groups specifically 
interested in vibrio or in ctenophores, so it would have to be an ad hoc 
group. I envisage a system where individual scientists would define their 
own interest areas and be able to communicate easily with colleagues with 
overlapping interests. For example, if I am working on the possibility that 
pollution is depressing oxygen levels in some region and this is encouraging 
the dominance of jellyfish, I could send it to people I know whom I have 
classified as interested in pollution, in hypoxia and in gelatinous 
zooplankton, and perhaps to others working in the same region.

Of course some of the existing networks are ideal for a few scientists. I 
find Twitter absolutely useless, but for astronomers searching for comets it 
must be a fantastic tool.

Anyway, I would welcome any comments and advice on ways in which these 
modern networking tools can be used for science. Email lists have certainly 
been useful, but I find that in some areas they are too narrowly defined and 
structured to work well.

Bill Silvert 

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