Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Dude, I Just Colleagued My Dean

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
CC licensed photo by

CC licensed photo by

What role should social networking play within online academic environments? Should faculty members, administrators, and students be able to friend one another on campus-wide blogging platforms? Is the term “friend,” used as either a noun or a verb, insufficiently serious for the august members of the academy? Or is friending so firmly established that any other term will sound hopelessly contrived?

These are not idle questions. As Project Director of The CUNY Academic Commons, an academic social network that connects the twenty-three campuses of The City University of New York system, I am trying to gauge the comfort-level of my local scholarly community with these issues. Our site uses uses BuddyPress, a set of plugins for WordPress Multi-User, to enable a social network that includes friend-based connections between members. So far, at least, we haven’t altered the default language of friending on BuddyPress, but that doesn’t mean we won’t or shouldn’t.

When we first unveiled the Commons to the CUNY community at the December 2009 CUNY IT Conference, one audience member expressed discomfort with the idea of friending colleagues. This prospective member of our site found the “friend” terminology a bit inappropriate to the academic sphere; more than that, though, he felt uncomfortable with the intimacy that friendship implied. He didn’t want to “friend” his Provost or receive a friendship request from a grad student working in his office. He just wanted to work with them.

So, one question I have is whether some term besides “friend” would be more appropriate for a work environment, even an informal one that includes social ventures like CUNY Pie. Would everyone be happier if we were colleaguing one another on our academic networks?

Of course, friending — the bi-directional, mutually affirmed confirmation of a relationship — is not the only model for connection in a social network. Twitter utilizes an asymmetrical “follow” system in which one user can follow, or subscribe to, the updates of one another without both members agreeing to a shared relationship. Similarly, sites like Flickr and Delicious allow users to add others to their networks without requiring a mutual decision by both members. LinkedIn, meanwhile, allows members to mark one another as colleagues, co-workers, or classmates. goes both ways: in addition to designating others on the site as colleagues, members can “follow” the work of other scholars.

On the Commons, we’ve been so busy developing the site that we haven’t really initiated this discussion among our users. Some conversation began over on Boone Gorges’s blog, where Boone and I began to hash out these issues in a post that really had little to do with the conversation that followed (+1 to me for hijacking the comment thread).

Obviously, individual academic communities may have different answers to these questions, but I figure that as long as we have some of the best minds in the Digital Humanities and Emerging Media gathered together in one place this weekend, we might as well take a crack at them, too.

So: will you be my friend colleague some-other-term-that-expresses-a-vague-and-perhaps-specious-connection? I hope so, because a request is already on its way.


  • Recent Comments

    THATCampers can use the blog and comments to talk about session ideas. Follow along by subscribing to the comments feed and to the blog feed!

    • thuyanh: A friend and I have actually made a video response that defends the “dumbest generation” and we...
    • Steven Hayes: Hi, just read your “project retrain” description as part of my background reading for...
    • Peter: Just curious: Is there a version of the National Register Nomination Form in some kind of database format,...
    • Samuel Teshale Derbe: This is excactly what I have been looking for.I have been recently invited to contribute to a...
    • plr articles: Just added more knowledge to my “library-head” :D
  • Twitter

    Here's what others are saying about THATCamp on Twitter

    • No items

    All Posts

  • THATCamp Prime Collaborative Documents
  • THATCamp Prime evaluation
  • New session: The THATCamp Movement
  • THATCamp on Flickr
  • Visualizing Subjectivity
  • More Twitter Visualizations
  • Remixing Academia
  • What THATCampers have been tweeting about (pre-camp)
  • Late to the Stage: Performing Queries
  • Humanist Readable Documentation
  • Zen Scavenger Hunt
  • The (in)adequacies of markup
  • One Week, One Book: Hacking the Academy
  • Analogizing the Sciences
  • Digital Literacy for the Dumbest Generation
  • Teaching Students Transferable Skills
  • Modest Proposals from a Digital Novice
  • Creative data visualizations
  • OpenStreetMap for Mapping of Historical Sites
  • soft circuits
  • Mostly Hack…
  • A Contextual Engagement
  • ARGs, Archives, and Digital Scholarship
  • Playing With the Past: Pick One of Three
  • DH centers as hackerspaces
  • All Courseware Sucks
  • HTML5
  • Dude, I Just Colleagued My Dean
  • The Future of Interdisciplinary Digital Cultural Heritage Curriculum (oh yeah, and games as well)
  • Project "Develop Self-Paced Open Access DH Curriculum for Mid-Career Scholars Otherwise Untrained"
  • what have you done for us lately?
  • Digital Storytelling: Balancing Content and Skill
  • Visualizing text: theory and practice
  • Plays Well With Others
  • Citing a geospatial hootenanny
  • Reimagining the National Register Nomination Form
  • documentation: what's in it for us?
  • Sharing the work
  • Digital Humanities Now 2.0 and New Models for Journals
  • Finding a Successor to Paper and Print
  • "Writing Space"
  • From Scratch
  • Cultivating Digital Skills and New Learning Spaces
  • Surveying the Digital Landscape Once Again
  • Building and designing projects for long term preservation
  • Collecting the Digital Story: Omeka and the New Media Narrative
  • Design Patterns for DH Projects
  • Chronicling America: They gave us an API. What do we do now?
  • Social Media and the History Non-Profit
  • THATCamp-in-a-Box
  • Teaching Collaboration
  • Geolocation, Archives, and Emulators (not all at once)
  • The Sound of Drafting
  • The Schlegel Blitz ("Only connect…")
  • Text Mining Scarce Sources
  • Applying open source methodology and economics to academia
  • What I'd Most Like to Do or Discuss
  • Hacking ethics for edupunks
  • Mobile technology and the humanities
  • Audiences and Arguments for Digital History
  • Open Peer Review
  • Who Wants To Be A Hacker?
  • Please advise
  • Greetings from the new Regional THATCamp Coordinator!
  • 2010 Applications Open!