'Facebook for professors'

Today's Guardian (Education) has an article on The Nature Network Site - likened to a 'Facebook for professors', but more accurately described later on as social networking site for academics.

The article - Would like to meet (Jessica Shepherd) - introduces the reader to the possibilities of allowing similar working people to be connected in such an increasingly common manner.

Possibilities include:

- scientists can discuss how best to conduct experiments and whether to post their research findings online

- discovering a research partner online

- getting people at the same level from different institutions and different research fields to talk to one another about the thing they have in common

- forming some of the glue between researchers, in terms of networking, career prospects and personal relationships

- allowing a form of peer review to take place in a less formal context.

Such social networks are likely to grow and expand over the years to come, however, if most academics are busy on-line communicating with someone many thousands of miles away I would be concerned this would have an effect on collegiality within institutions - research, after all, is only one part of the job.

I can also see many marriages breaking down as the result of on-line social networking - a surprising dimension of the article itself!!

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