Looking at ComScore’s top U.K. web rankings for September 2008 there is one big story: the greatest broadcaster the world has ever known (i.e., the BBC) has been overtaken on the web in the UK by a social network site most famous for ‘the poke’ (i.e., the Facebook).
Whilst I have never been one to subscribe to the Daily Mail’s mantra that ‘the world has gone to hell in a handcart’, you can’t help but despair on days like this. The future’s bleak, the future is filled with flying sheep and zombie bites. It will be interesting to see how the Mail deal with the story. Do they spin it as the “BBC letting things slip” or “Armageddon due as world’s youth communicate”? So much fear and hatred and only one small paper.
The BBC has a massive site with loads of great stuff, but unfortunately most people just go to the same few small areas. Everyone should go to the BBC this minute and surf an area they haven’t been to before!
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.
Over the last couple of weeks the Encyclopaedia Britannica has been covering the recent commissioning of 100 works to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the London Underground’s Roundel. Two prints were made of each of the works: one added to the underground’s archive of art and one auctioned on ebay. Unfortunately the Briannica’s quality must be called into question once again; they failed to highlight Karl Holmqvist’s “Let’s Go Together”…that’s the one we bought.
Before I had web access, it was highly unlikely that I would have heard of the commissioning, and if I had heard of it, it would have seemed too far away to do anything about it. Sometimes we forget how much the web has changed our lives in such a short period of time.