Social Networking

Social network sites are websites that allow a user to create a public self-profile and also maintain a list of other users in their social network. The user can usually view the profiles and social networks of others within the system. The sites usually provide a several ways for users to interact, such as chat, messaging, email, video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, and discussion groups.

After joining a social network site, the user is asked to answer a series of personal questions. The user's online profile is generated from these answers which typically include descriptors such as age, location, interests, and an "about me" section. Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users to enhance their profiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profile's look and feel. The visibility of a profile varies by site and according to user discretion. Users are prompted to identify others in the system with whom they have a relationship.

Wikipedia provides a list of over 100 social network websites, with MySpace and Facebook being the mostly widely used in 2007. MySpace, with over 100 million visitors, is very popular with teenagers, and Facebook, with over 70 million visitors, is popular with college students. Each social network site seems to focus on a specific target audience based on location, nationality, ethnicity, or interests. Some social network sites, e.g., LinkedIn and XING, are specifically aimed at professionals.

Nature Network

Nature Network is an online meeting place for scientists to gather, talk and find out about the latest scientific news and events. Science is an international endeavor and deserves a global stage for discussion. Scientists can also benefit from interactions at the local level, which is why Nature Network has local city hubs. As with other social network sites, there are many interactive services:

  • Create your own personal profile page and describe yourself and your research.
  • Set up a group for your lab, department, institution or topic.
  • Join and have discussions with group members.
  • Build your own online network of like-minded people.
  • Discuss what's going on in your field; post comments on other people's blogs.
  • Search and browse the listing of all upcoming seminars and conferences.
  • Read the latest news, views and historical insights and then write comments.
  • Browse local jobs listings.

Micro-blogging on Twitter

See below for a video introduction to Twitter - a micro-blogging service that enables friends to keep up with all those little things you do in your life:


For Professionals

Social networking is not just the province of young people talking about music on MySpace. It is rapidly becoming an important Web 2.0 tool for professionals to stay in touch and collaborate with the members of their various communities of interest and practice. This page lists just a few.


SciTechNet(sm) is a blog that collects social networking sites in the Sciences and Technology.





BioMedExperts (BME) is a social networking platform for the life-science research community. The comprehensive system of pre-populated expert profiles, coupled with the ability to analyze all associated professional connections within the co-author network, allows scientists and researchers across organizations the ability to share data and collaborate in ways never before considered.


Friends:Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services is a blog devoted to the use of online social networking sites for any and all types of library-related programs or services. It is maintained by Gerry McKiernan, Iowa State University Library.

Social Network Sites

Click here for an interesting article on "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship" by danah m. boyd and Nicole B. Ellison.