Archive for April, 2009

Academia.edu

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

I have finally got round to adding my name (and dodgy photo) to academia.edu, a global directory of academics which uses a tree-mapping display categorised by university and department. Whilst this merely replicates aggregated HE administrative structures, its real effectiveness may lie in the potential inter-institutional and inter-disciplinary connections made through its user-generated research interests.

However a recent e-mail from the developers reveals a growing concern over the proliferation of these interests, suggesting users become actively involved in merging and re-appropriating them according to hiearchical values. This apparent messiness is indicative of user-generated classification systems not constrained by predetermined structures. I was intrigued to see someone had put skateboarding down as one of their research interests! I can appreciate the value of standardising terms to facilitate searching for like-minded colleagues, but by imposing a structured taxonomy, are the developers enforcing traditional disciplinary and theoretical hierarchies and classifications which might otherwise be challenged? It will be interesting to see how things develop.

My academia.edu page is here.