Facebook for scholars

At the Group on Faculty Affairs conference next month, one of my fellow panelists will be describing her office’s experiment with Facebook. It seems just as higher education has become comfortable with one social media outlet, another pops up. After Facebook came Twitter. Then it’s LinkedIn and Google Plus and Tumblr.

The proliferation of networking sites can overwhelm you. Once you’ve built up a following on one site, you’re loathe to switch to another platform and start from scratch.

One site that I am experimenting with is Academia.edu. This social networking site will look familiar to Facebook users, but instead of celebrating birthdays and parties, the profile highlights intellectual work. A scholar can upload publications and research interests. He or she can join interest groups and follow the work of colleagues. It also tells you when another user has read your materials, creating possible collaborations.

There’s not as much activity on Academia.edu as there is on Facebook. New publications don’t come out as frequently as status updates. At least there’s no chance of being caught in an embarrassing photo on Academia.edu, and it does offer a chance to promote your work.

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