Rise of scholarly and social networking

Many Project Bamboo workshop participants saw social networking as the "pub conversation" of 21st century scholarship. Unlike earlier forms of scholarly community where one was expected to pay a membership fee and join a scholarly society, or be personally introduced to a mailing list, "lurkers" can benefit from the conversations between digital humanists that take place in open forums, and contribute without any formal introduction.

Younger scholars who maintain a wide range of social connections on sites like Facebook are also likely to maintain a wide range of connections to other scholars-- sometimes using the same websites and profiles that they use for general social connections. While some workshop participants wanted to refer to the phenomenon of social networks enabling connections between scholars as "scholarly networking", it was pointed out that the line between the personal and the professional is often blurred in practice.

In 2008, when the Bamboo workshop 1 series took place, Facebook was mentioned as being popular with groups working on minority languages, and both MySpace and Facebook were mentioned as platforms that participants had seen used for general scholarly networking. Less social sites that tied into scholarly workflows, like Zotero and Google Books, were also described as being popular.

While scholars have successfully made use of general social networking platforms, some workshop participants expressed interest in the development of a tool specifically designed to "connect publications, conferences, personal information, etc. to enable you to know "what people are up to" (Ex 6b, 1d-A). There was a Project Bamboo working group dedicated to scholarly networking, which at one point proposed the deliverable of building "widgets" (plug-ins, add-ons, etc.) that could connect some of that data for scholars, but present it in the social networking environments they already use. As the working group progressed, there was growing concern that directing efforts towards building "widgets" meant prioritizing a particular solution without a thorough understanding of what the problem actually was. Interest shifted towards using social networks as a way to exchange ideas, solutions, and information about potentially useful tools and resources.

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