Social Networks...

Last week I joined Facebook, which is an amazing and exploding social network for university and high-school students, staff, and faculty. I've been trying to figure out how to support and catalyze scientific communities for several years, including designing and launching the GridForge for the Global Grid Forum (now called Open Grid Forum, or OGF). GridForge uses the same underlying platform as Sourceforge.net, Slashdot, and a good number of other sites. But while this seems to be a great platform for supporting individual groups developing things (like software or documents) together, they are not geared toward finding and mapping social networks (i.e. finding colleagues or discovering potential collaborators with overlapping interests, etc.).

As I have explored Facebook I've kept the question in the back of my mind - could this be a useful tool for the scientific community as well? With some minor enhancements I think it very well could be. Already it is useful to see connections between people, find people, and even manage events.

I've searched for colleagues and I find that it seems perhaps many of us have become geezers with respect to new technology like this - most of the 7 million participants are college students or younger. I did find that some of us do not in fact believe that its hip to be square. I was happy to see Larry Smarr, Ian Foster, and Beth Plale were already in the mix.

It would be great if more people from our community (TeraGrid staff, users, collaborators...) joined Facebook to see if it might be a useful tool for our community.

See you there!

Charlie Catlett's Facebook profile


Blogger Keith Thompson said...

There's been some controversy lately about Facebook's privacy practices.

"Facebook Changes Provoke Uproar Among Users"
"Facebook Scrambles after Unexpected Privacy Fumble"
Facebook's response: "We really messed this one up."

9/08/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger CeC said...

Controversy for sure- but they didn't do anything that breached privacy. Here is a note posted by the Facebook founder yesterday:

An Open Letter from Mark Zuckerberg:

We really messed this one up. When we launched News Feed and Mini-Feed we were trying to provide you with a stream of information about your social world. Instead, we did a bad job of explaining what the new features were and an even worse job of giving you control of them. I'd like to try to correct those errors now.

When I made Facebook two years ago my goal was to help people understand what was going on in their world a little better. I wanted to create an environment where people could share whatever information they wanted, but also have control over whom they shared that information with. I think a lot of the success we've seen is because of these basic principles.

We made the site so that all of our members are a part of smaller networks like schools, companies or regions, so you can only see the profiles of people who are in your networks and your friends. We did this to make sure you could share information with the people you care about. This is the same reason we have built extensive privacy settings – to give you even more control over who you share your information with.

Somehow we missed this point with News Feed and Mini-Feed and we didn't build in the proper privacy controls right away. This was a big mistake on our part, and I'm sorry for it. But apologizing isn't enough. I wanted to make sure we did something about it, and quickly. So we have been coding nonstop for two days to get you better privacy controls. This new privacy page will allow you to choose which types of stories go into your Mini-Feed and your friends' News Feeds, and it also lists the type of actions Facebook will never let any other person know about. If you have more comments, please send them over.

This may sound silly, but I want to thank all of you who have written in and created groups and protested. Even though I wish I hadn't made so many of you angry, I am glad we got to hear you. And I am also glad that News Feed highlighted all these groups so people could find them and share their opinions with each other as well.

About a week ago I created a group called Free Flow of Information on the Internet, because that's what I believe in – helping people share information with the people they want to share it with. I'd encourage you to check it out to learn more about what guides those of us who make Facebook. Today (Friday, 9/8) at 4pm edt, I will be in that group with a bunch of people from Facebook, and we would love to discuss all of this with you. It would be great to see you there.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,


9/08/2006 09:25:00 PM  

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