Social networking tools such as blogs, microblogs (Twitter), and Facebook, extend your communication abilities. The immediate benefits are threefold:
- Increased broadcast capacity: you can now reach 200, 500 or 1000 people daily at a minimal cost. Why give a talk in front of 45 peers, when you can reach 4,500 people with the same amount of effort? Publishing a book or an article, or appearing in a television or magazine are much more difficult tasks. Nobody is suggesting that researchers start posting their results on Facebook instead of publishing them in Nature, but why not doing both? (If posting your research results on Facebook sounds silly to you, consider that the respected arXiv repository recently introduced an arXiv on Facebook feature.)
- Automated relationship management through filters and aggregators. If I subscribe to your blog or microblog or Facebook profile, staying in touch is an automated process. Even sending Christmas cards to everyone in your network is starting to feel like an expensive and ineffective process. I no longer want to ship a copy of my research papers to my friends and collaborators, I want them to subscribe to my arXiv atom feed.
- Inexpensive asynchronicity through infinite databases. I cannot give the same talk every day for the rest of my life, but I can make it available to all at all times for a long time, for almost no cost. Post your talks on YouTube! Post your slides on slideshare! It costs nothing!
Several secondary benefits follow from the use of e-networking:
- Form and join emerging communities
- Receive immediate feedback on your ideas
- Build a digital reputation
- Encourage a diversity of thought
- Share tacit knowledge
- Learn how to write efficiently
- Real time access to information
- Build information repositories