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Subject: 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 13:45:59 -0000

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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 lists.

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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