This week, we’re focusing on social networks. These are websites which allow you to keep track of and interact with people. Some are very simple indeed; others are more complicated. Facebook is the most famous, but we’re going to look at some that are perhaps less widely-known, but very useful for researchers.
11th Thing – Twitter
Twitter (n) ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’. The site founders read this dictionary definition, and decided that it pretty much summed up what their microblogging service offered to users. However, as of April 2010, 100 million people worldwide were using Twitter to share their thoughts about current affairs, celebrities and – inevitably – cats. So there must be something in it. Take a look at this short video to learn more.
Twitter really took off thanks to a film festival and conference in 2007, where it allowed delegates to communicate with each other via a completely open ‘back channel’. It’s no surprise, then, that Twitter is starting to appear regularly at academic conferences. Funding councils also use Twitter as a way to communicate news and opportunities, and you can even find collaborators via the service (this 25 Things programme began following a Twitter exchange at a conference in July!). So there are many reasons to explore Twitter a little further…
This week, if you’re not already on Twitter, we’d like you to sign up and start using the service. If you are on Twitter, we’d like you to blog about your experiences to date.
For Twitter newbies:
Go to the Twitter home page and create an account for yourself.
Search for someone or something to “follow”. If you have any friends that you know are already using Twitter, search for them and click on the “Follow” button. Otherwise, search for “bbc” and follow one or more of their Twitter feeds. Or why not try to find your research council – most of them now have official Twitter feeds as well.
Over the next few days, try to remember to occasionally update your Twitter status.
If you’re interested in following them, here’s our selection of Twitter feeds:
- University of Huddersfield (@HuddersfieldUni)
- Research Information Network (@research_inform)
- University of Huddersfield – Business Mine (@BusinessMine)
- University of Huddersfield – Graduate Research Centre (@GraduateCentre)
- University of Huddersfield Library (@hudlib)
- University of Huddersfield Repository (@hudeprints)
- University of Huddersfield Students’ Union (@uhsu)
12th Thing – Lanyrd
We are not the only ones to have spotted the link between conferences and Twitter. Some clever developers have created a Twitter application which allows you to share the conferences you’re attending, and see where the people you follow are going to be as well.
It’s still in its early stages, but Lanyrd is an interesting model and we think it’s worth your while to take a look around.
Go the Lanyrd home page and sign in using your Twitter ID.
Take a look around and see what conferences are happening, and maybe think about adding one that you’re attending.
13th Thing – LinkedIn
One of the big challenges when using social networks is keeping a distinction between your personal and professional lives. While it’s great to have another way of keeping in touch with your work contacts, you don’t necessarily want those people to have access to your holiday photos!
LinkedIn draws a very clear line between the two. It’s a social network that’s designed specifically for professionals, and most of its members are there for work-related reasons.
The basic premise is that you, the member, are at the centre of an ever-expanding social network. There are people that you know (your direct connections). Then, there are people that your direct connections know (your second-degree connections). And there are the people that your second-degree connections know (your third-degree connections).
LinkedIn thinks that, when it comes to solving work-related problems, staying up-to-date in your sector or finding a job, the people that are a degree or two removed from you are just as helpful as the people you already know. So it provides a way for you to see and connect with those people. Watch this short video for a bit more detail.
So the final Thing we’d like you to do this week is to experiment with LinkedIn.
Go to the LinkedIn home page and sign up to create an account.
Search for people you know. Add them as contacts. See if they know anyone else who could be useful to you, and consider asking for an introduction. Also, look and see if there are any groups you could join – starter for ten; if you search for Huddersfield you’ll find the university alumni group.
Don’t forget to blog about your experiences with social networks this week. Have you made any new connections? Learned anything new? Will you stay a member of these networks after 25 Things finishes?