Webometric Thoughts

November 3, 2008

Academia.edu: Direct marketing

Filed under: academia — admin @ 9:34 am

I first mentioned Academia.edu, a social network site exclusively for academia, back in September. At the time I said that a SNS specifically for academia was a good idea, although the site itself was slow and not particularly user-friendly. I didn’t give the site another thought until this morning, when I found an email in my inbox, sent to all the university staff, inviting me to join academia.edu.

Academics are easily contacted via email, and if you describe your product in an academic enough manner you will quickly find a ‘helpful’ member of staff willing to send it to every member of a university. Would a Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, or LinkedIn invite have been forwarded as quickly? Despite the fact they are more user-friendly, and in the case of LinkedIn arguably more useful as academics look to engage with the wider community.

What really annoyed me, however, was the way the network tried to sell itself.

Some professors on Academia.edu include:
– Richard Dawkins – http://oxford.academia.edu/RichardDawkins
– Stephen Hawking – http://cambridge.academia.edu/StephenHawking
– Paul Krugman – http://princeton.academia.edu/PaulKrugman
– Noam Chomsky – http://mit.academia.edu/NoamChomsky

What does their inclusion have to do with the network’s use to me? Does Dawkins have some great insight into social network sites that means I should follow his example? Would he appreciate me contacting him via academia.edu to give a critique of his ‘God Delusion’? Obviously they are irrelevant, and any academic should recognise them as such. It obviously doesn’t help academia.edu’s case that each of these particular professors are vastly over-rated in the public-psyche.


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