Personal accounts: what the web has done for me…..

By Feb.25, 2010

This  tag cloud summarises the contents of this blog post.

To read it please click below.

It is becoming clear that web technologies can be used as a powerful, additional strategy to cultivate a wider network of like-minded people, learn from different (living) sources, create new resources and ultimately raise one’s researcher profile. It is also an effective way of disseminating research – the process as well as the outcomes- more openly and widely. And I’d dare say, that in many social, professional and human sciences, it is increasingly becoming a vehicle to establish contact with research participants. So the possibilities are numerous.: as many as those we can think of and effectively activate to suit out needs.

Yet, web technologies are still a fairly new area and it obviously raises a lot of issues and concerns. And that is not at all a bad thing, as it generates useful debates and questions we need to address.

Many of us still don’t feel very comfortable about putting our work out there for others to see and access. Not everyone is that inclined to join the new forms of networking that the social web allows. And some haven’t yet decided if they want to venture in such ‘technological venues’ for the most diverse reasons.

I could say: ‘Fair enough. We don’t all have to do the same. Technology is not a remedy for all cures’. And indeed it is not! Technology is, in fact, the least of my concerns. What we do with it, and how we benefit from it, however, is what has occupied most of my time in the last few years.

Orginal photo by Thomas Hawk

Orginal photo by Thomas Hawk

Nevertheless, it is important to realise the potential technologies may have in creating wider impact. It is crucial to consider ways in which it will create value, and not hassle, to our daily practice.  We may not like it, for all the learning curve it may represent, all the work it may imply or the exposure it may give us… Yet, we cannot avoid it, can we?  These days, we are even advised to do our electoral registration online. Banks gives access to our accounts online, and independently of us liking it or not it is happening and we cannot stop it. So all we can do it to catch up with the pace, wisely and consciously.  The ‘This is Me‘ project does provide really good tips on how we can manage our presence online. I will get back to that later in another post.

Right now, I want to focus on why we should be taking this step in the first place, and this takes me to example of how people are using the web to learn, research, raise their professional (and also personal) profile, in other words, how they have managed to use the web for their own advantage.

The examples that follow were sent to me through different channels as a response of my question:

How does social media help raise your profile and enhance your research? What’s the added value of being online?

I must say I got a fair amount of responses, as shown below. I hope these examples will shed some light into the practice of those who are thinking about going into this route. If for nothing else, the responses shared here, give us an idea of how powerful the web is as a means of engaging in this culture of practice sharing, knowledge construction and mutual support. But as you will see by the personal testimonies, there are more benefits to it.

Personal accounts: what the web has done for me…..

Derek Moore: I’ve been working on the web professionally for approx 10 years, but it’s been quite a solitary life, as a lurker* out here at the bottom end of Africa. Twitter and the ideas of a PLN [Personal Learning network] prompted a big change in my participatory behaviours, and I’ve discovered that I do have something useful to say and share. Although South Africa’s tele-communications framework keeps us moving backward, the ability to engage world wide with significant people and their thinking has left me quite re-invigorated.

* – someone who learns by observing and reading what other do rather than taking active part in the activity of the network.

Sakina Sofia: Through social media, a researcher can be led to resources that she/he would not have known. I particularly think it narrows the gap between developed & developing countries researchers…both can learn from each other…hence border-less knowledge.. Practical examples: Twitter & FB posts! Esp information on new blog posts.

Ruth Vilmi: One LinkedIn contact asked for my translation services last week, and a FB contact asked for my language checking services. Conclusion: FB and LinkedIn can bring me business and real friends.

Rosmarie Voegtli: I was asked on FB for the translation of a English written health topic in German – (only two words to complete an article about eHealth 2.0). With a short dialogue it was solved. I am spreading health links on facebook and twitter for health professionals I know personally (and for others). FB is the place people know they can easily contact me. For professional matters it’s still the blog and the website where I get more feedback and especially requests.

Irmeli Aro provided her answer here.

Ricardo Torres re: social media+research: the contacts, the collaboration, the “personal recommendation system”, the PLN, the inspiration 😉

Erin Kreeger Helps connect trans-disciplinarily on similar topics; real-time data/feedback on research can increase relevance & validity

A recurrent theme from the answers provided is ‘personal(ised) connections’: establishing contacts, creating links with people we can share our interests with, and who validate and stimulate our work. From there new opportunities seem to emerge, be it learning about new resources, developing collaborative links, enhancing personal experience and knowledge or even do business.

Aren’t we all looking for the same? i.e. other people we can communicate with in order to feel we are not alone in this? Humankind is characterised by a need for self-expression. We appreciate understanding and challenges from others who are interested in the same kind of things. Like minded people are not always our next door neighbours, but these days not being physically near is no longer a limitation. We can link to other people who share similar interests and are also looking for others to connect, independently of our location or at what stage of our career we are at.

Some decades ago, connecting global intelligence was just part of an utopic idea. These days is increasingly part of the reality of knowledge workers and other sectors of society. Soon enough, when the novelty wears off,  we will not even give much thought to what technology can do for us but rather what we – like-minded people – can achieve together: which new contexts will we be able to create to best suit our research and learning goals.

1 Comment

One thought on “Personal accounts: what the web has done for me…..

  1. 10 years ago  

    Thought provoking piece Cris. I like the way you end off – technology shouldn’t just be about connecting like minded people, but should be enabling like minded people to achieve something greater together. The gap between the two however, seems quite large. I’ve found that the stimulation between my new contacts has been wonderful, but it has not led me into any new meaningful projects. Not sure how you go about taking those steps to achieving greater things.

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