UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Social Networks Can Be Just For Christmas

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Jul 2008

Due to one of the speaker’s not being able to attend, we had to find, at the last moment, a couple of speakers to take part in the opening session at IWMW 2008. I was pleased that Claire Gibbons, University of Bradford and Mike Ellis, Eduserv, were able to provide brief presentations which helped to engage with the IWMW 2008 theme of The Great Debate.

I videoed Claire’s talk, in which she described why the University of Bradford had set up a social network using Ning. I have previously commented on institutional use of Ning, including Bradford’s service, but it was good to hear why this social network was established (to support newly arrived students) and how it is envisaged that the social network is expected to have an impact only during the first term of the new academic year. Such social networks, according to Claire, don’t always have to have long term sustainability – and maybe a social network can be for just until Christmas.

Please note that this video is available on YouTube (and further details of Claire’s talk are available on the IWMW 2008 Web site).

3 Responses to “Social Networks Can Be Just For Christmas”

  1. Mike Nolan said

    Our experience with Hi at Edge Hill has certainly been that there’s a distinct pattern of usage rising from A Level results day through to the start of term. Then a lull over Christmas until the next cycle kicks off properly around March when students are deciding which offers to accept.

  2. Hi Brian I am using Ning experimentally as a means of supporting some of the tutors on one of the services I run over at Mimas. It’s very early days in terms of whether or not it work but one of the main attractions was ease of use in terms of administration and that allows us to ‘take the risk’, as if it fails we have not expended to many resources.

  3. just as a general observation, though: the value of a social network lies in the ability – and willingness – of the users to actually weave their social ties. short-lived social networking sites are very shallow, as users won’t bother “friending” all their friends etc (maybe speaking from my own experience, based on a few conference-specific sites like the backnetwork for the brighton-based d.construct events)…it becomes tedious, particularly if it’s clear that something is only short-lived.

    just because a site/web-based system lets users create profiles and make connections with other users, it doesn’t necessarily become a “social networking site”. and just because a site offers those capabilities, it doesn’t mean that users will be willing to involve themselves deeply with it (even to the point of not bothering to upload an avatar/profile picture etc).

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