Colonizing Social Sites: It’s Fun & It’s FREE!

Collier WorkJim Spadacinni at Ideum recently posted on the potential of institutions -in this case museums- to colonize web 2.0 spaces (article link). He brings up a lot of excellent examples in his post. See his discussion of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s My Space profile and Ideum’s work-in-progress with the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology that will be…

…using a Flickr mashup to create a gallery and online activity. The site focuses on the 20th Century American photographer, John Collier Jr. The Maxwell will be posting around 500 high-resolution images to Flickr. At the moment, you can visit a John Collier Jr.’s Flickr site and see a test-bed which includes around 40 images.

These are just two examples of ways that museums are tapping into the immense social networks that have already been established by applications like MySpace and Flickr. I posted a little while back about Brooklyn College’s Library presence on MySpace; I was thinking aloud about the presence of other universities and colleges on MySpace. Yesterday, Melissa (sorry I don’t have a link or more info about this great resource) replied in the comments of that post directing me to the Universities and Colleges page on Myspace. From my initial explorations there are 23 colleges and universities on MySpace and there profiles vary widely in approach and accessibility. Not all of them are public and many of them have issues with the formatting of their profile, check out Yale and Brown’s profiles for cleaner, more attractive interfaces. Many of the profiles have done a good job of befriending their students: Wake Forest has 893 friends and Brown has 375 friends.

Interestingly enough, many of the “friends” of these universities are alumni, suggesting these profiles as possible spaces that universities and colleges can colonize to “stay in touch” with graduates. More than that, it is a way to find out how many students are on MySpace; how people are using this online application; and what such a social networking tool might bring to the realm of teaching and learning technologies. I don’t thin k I need to make the case so vehemently for Flickr as MySpace, for given the fear and terror associated with MySpace predators -it is often framed as anathema to all things “educational.” But as these social networking spaces with critical mass continue to foster active communities populated by large numbers of people such an argument may not hold water for much longer. I hate the advertising presence on MySpace as well as the look and feel of the site just as much as the next discerning web junkie, but thinking of this space as one of many portals into more particularized university and college resources (say like scholarship viz-a-viz podcasts, videos, online learning experiemnts, etc.) may not be as crazy as I once thought -or is it?

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5 Responses to Colonizing Social Sites: It’s Fun & It’s FREE!

  1. Jim says:

    As you can see, the research on art museums has already been done! It does my heart proud to see the Brooklyn Museum (my old stomping ground) on flickr -nice to know the greatest borough in NYC is well ahead of the curve. A question: what is in the web 2.0 water up in Canada? -you folks are all over social networking sites like white on rice! Seems like everytime I want to find something interesting online I have to up North, at least virtually.

    Great stuff Zeke’s Gallery (it is kinda funny how I am referring to a gallery as if it were a person -the next dimension of social networking?), thanks!

  2. Mikhail says:

    Good stuff, Jimmy. Baruch College has been talking about claiming some turf on MySpace for a little while now. The new mantra here is “You gotta go where the students are.” We actually tried something along these lines (but much more expensive) with a service called AirBaruch that allowed students to get all sorts of school and course info on their cellphones — it was not a big hit as nobody used it. MySpace seems like a safer, smarter bet for now.

  3. Jim says:

    So AirBaruch got few takers… I am surprised to hear this for it seems like the cellphone is the tool of the future -or so many are saying these days. I was also struck by a couple of things about the college/univierity presence on MySpace:

    1) How few have gone there thus far
    2) Two out of the 23 schools that are on MySpace are Ivy League -actually three if you count the Cornell profle in the comments.

  4. Sheila says:

    This really is a great idea. I think it could also work well for institutions that have more restrictive server and OS structure, like federal museums. My former museum, US Navy Museum, had very restrictive rules about what could be posted on an official navy website and as a result just languishes in early web 1.0 world. But colonizing My Space has great potential.

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