What are Social Networks?

Today’s web users are prolific creators of content, and they upload photographs, audio, and video to cloud-based social networks, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and many others by the billions. While the initial emphasis of social networks was placed on producing and uploading media to these popular sharing sites, as the notion of social media has evolved it has ultimately become more about the conversations started and relationships formed via this media. When users log in to Facebook and Twitter, two of the sites that have the most subscribers and daily traffic, they are there to see what their family, friends, and favorite brands and organizations are doing and who is talking about what. For educational institutions, social media enables two-way dialogues between students, prospective students, educators, and the institution that are less formal than with other media. New tools, such as Facebook’s social search engine, promise to mine these interactions using a concept known as the social graph. A person’s social graph represents the sum of all of a person’s online social connections (who he or she is friends with, who likes the things she or her friends are interested in, who among those connections is where, etc.) and provides a means to search and navigate those connections. Social graphs can be visualized in a variety of interesting ways, but far more interesting is the information embedded within the social graph and what it can tell us.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • As a communication tool - although how we connect with our target audience might be challenging - cmkeithw cmkeithw Apr 16, 2015
  • As a scholarly resource - a valuable source of relevant content - cmkeithw cmkeithw Apr 16, 2015
  • As a new outlet for scholarly communication- but how do we ensure that it attracts academic recognition - for example, will regular blogging earn tenure? - cmkeithw cmkeithw Apr 16, 2015
  • I think this is more relevant to connecting with scholars, researchers, and faculty than it is to connecting with students. Students are becoming less likely to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (where libraries have been trying to connect with and market to them) and more likely to use Snapchat and Yikyak, where there really seems to be no place for libraries or other academic institutions. Educating researchers on networks like academia.edu, ResearchGate, and Mendeley could be a useful role for libraries. - melissa.bowles-terry melissa.bowles-terry Apr 17, 2015 - edlef edlef Apr 18, 2015 - mkloes mkloes Apr 19, 2015
  • i dont think that the students are very interested to connect to the library in different networks. Which one to choose?? - edlef edlef Apr 18, 2015
  • Users tend to use social network to communicate, academic libraries need to use the way that users like to reach them and serve them.
  • Although some relationships between social networks and libraries have begun to develop--such as those mentioned by Melissa Bowles-Terry above--it is a large task to develop and maintain connections between library services and programs and the vast and growing forest of online social networks. For example, popular Tolkien discussions on Reddit drive the use of our library's Tolkien-related webpages, but the overall relationship between social networks and our web resources is very small. - janice.welburn janice.welburn Apr 20, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • There's a challenge around curating the scholarly record from the social network space - cmkeithw cmkeithw Apr 16, 2015 - mkloes mkloes Apr 19, 2015
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • If faculty and researchers are using scholarly social networks, that's a good opportunity to talk with them about maintaining ownership of their work and putting it in an institutional repository (which will make it easier for them to share their work on these social networks.) - melissa.bowles-terry melissa.bowles-terry Apr 17, 2015
  • Informing about scholarly social networks and the possibilities for networking, finding collaborators and making your work available. Also of course helping researchers navigate rights issues. - erik.stattin erik.stattin Apr 19, 2015

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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