During the New Web seminar at the University of Victoria, Jim Spadacinni talked a bit about the potential for museums to colonize popular social sites for both exposure and networking. Logic being, regardless of how much one may hate how a site like MySpace looks and feels -why not go where everybody is?
This whole idea seemed a bit gimmicky to me at first, but pretty soon I started wondering how many colleges and universities are on MySpace. So I did a quick search and … the search function on MySpace sucks! It was extremely difficult to find anything when I entered the keyword university or UCLA or Mary Washington. So I searched by groups, but mainly found student clubs, individual pages, and assorted school toolbars.
I had read about a librarian at Brooklyn College who created a profile for their library on MySpace, so this time I did a google search and found it. How about that, a MySpace profile from a library that “colonizes” the virtual spaces where students hang out. Effectively making the Brooklyn College library a different place for some, i.e., a hip, cool place to hang out, research, or even get online and check your myspace account.
Given that colleges and universities are premised upon bringing people together around thinking critically about ideas, interests, and beliefs (making these institutions particular kinds of social networks) -can they ignore these communities (MySpace being just one example) that are developing virtual models that also center around people’s interests, ideas, and shared belief? What might colleges and universities add to such environments? What might they lose by joining them?
I would have immediately dismissed the question of whether or not educational institutions should have a presence on a site like MySpace a few months ago, but as of late I am not so sure. What has me re-thinking my earlier assumptions is that at least 2200 people have found Brooklyn College’s Library profile on MySpace interesting enough to befriend it. This library, without compromising its mission in any way, has reached out to at least 2,200 people who have responded in kind. Very, very interesting …