Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hang loose?

Hang loose I've recently had dealings with a conservation charity, two learned societies and an academic organisation which all have something in common. They were born before and are run by people who were born before the internet generation.

The pattern is depressingly familiar. We want to "do" the internet. Long months of toil follow. Eventual outcome, doing it badly, or not doing it at all.

Why do I care? Partly because harmful decisions are being made by organizations I care about and would like to promote much more widely. Partly because of the way some of the decisions have been made. But part of the reason is more personal. It's all very well to say "the Internet itself is the network", and I do OK personally with my lone wolf act, but for both professional and personal reasons, I would occasionally like to act as part of a larger but more co-ordinated grouping - a member of the shoal rather than just a member of a population.

The benefits of loose network affiliations include agility and personal freedom, but the downsides include loss of the ability to command mass attention, and the difficulty/impossibility of fundraising/ generating revenue. Sounds a bit like the recent science blogging networks hooha, right?

All this is in sharp contrast to the work we are doing for Annals of Botany with the AoB blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, which has been an unmitigated pleasure.

I normally try to avoid frustrated posts, so I hope you'll forgive me this one. It's been an interesting week...