15 December 2011

Why “Facebook for scientists” sites keep dying

Because they continually fill up with crap like this. Here’s a selection of topics listed in a “Recent activity” email I got from a science social networking site:

How can cosmic consciousness be studied?

With paradigm-shifting hypotheses in string theory and data from the LHC. And doing a lot of drugs.

Is anybody working on 'language processing in bilinguals by using ERPs like N400 or P600?' Need help in this area. Thank You.

How could someone ever find out the answer to that question if it weren’t for a social media sites?

Hello All Well I am just an amateur in this field. But i am too intrigued about the phenomenon occurring in the highly convulated object of our body....

You may be an amateur in neuroscience, but you’re an expert in letting me know which topics to avoid.


Because multiple punctuation marks always get more attention!ll!!eleventy!111!

These are all topics in a social networking site sponsored by a general scientific society. It’s a society that’s fairly easy to join.

The alerts show one of the problems with wannabe science social networking sites. They get organized around topics, and not people. The brilliant thing about the best social sites is that they help you find people worth listening to. People talk about a lot of different things, and part of the fun is listening and finding out the variety of little quirks and interests people have.

Twitter would be nowhere near as much fun if you followed hashtags rather than users.

1 comment:

Jj22 said...

I agree with the part of your comment mentioning that people are the important units in social websites, not subjects, and in that sense the website you are referring to might be improved.

However, by raising those particular cases that are obviously at the low end of the quality scale, what do you insinuate ? That the general scientific society should apply censorship ? That is exactly the opposite of what social networking sites do : they allow people to get together and share on an equal ground - the best and the worst. I could go through the Twitter feeds of the day and find 100x more crap than what you identified, but I feel it would be somehow dishonest to judge what "Twitter" is by taking commentaries at the low end of the quality scale.

All websites face major difficulties when it comes to the compromises between quality vs quantity, subject vs individuals, etc... For instance, I realize as I write this comment that I cannot simply enter my name and my website. I have to use some authentification system through Google Accounts or OpenID. Because of this, I can't display my Twitter account as the main homepage without going through a painful process. Changing this might improve how your blog puts forward individuals rather than the subject-based approach that you are now using.