Monday, September 22, 2008

Scientists, stamp collecting and stickiness

Digital Intimacy For the past year, quite a bit of my thinking about how scientists interact (or more often, don't interact) with social media has been informed by the thoughtful and incisive writing of David Crotty. David's latest post, "Digital Intimacy" has triggered a few more thoughts relevant to our Small Worlds project here in Leicester.

...much of the activity spent online is not really about social interactions, it’s instead focused on creating a digital identity, a representation of how you want the world to see you, literally a way to “write ourselves into being.”

David's not the biggest fan of Twitter, but as he points out, there is a growing group of biologists on Friendfeed (even if many of them are "the usual suspects"). We've been thinking about Twitter as the social glue for Small Worlds, but thinking back to how Friendfeed trounced Twitter at the Nature science blogging conference and David's comments, it seems that there's something about Friendfeed which is attractive to the scientific mind.

Not that I believe there is a "scientific mind" as a distinct entity, but going through the research training sausage machine tends to reproduce recognizable attitudes and patterns of activity. This isn't necessarily particularly desirable, and I suspect the attraction of Friendfeed to scientists has more to do with stamp collecting and unwillingness to participate in the freer lifestreaming patterns of interaction on Twitter than any inherent superiority of the Friendfeed architecture.

Nevertheless, it seems we would be unwise to ignore Friendfeed, so I've added a page to the Small Worlds wiki. The only problem now is that I still feel that I've never really grokked Friendfeed, so who's going to help me write it in a way that makes it relevant to Small Worlds?