Science Fair - Social Networks - Where do we go from here?

Thu, 2011-04-21 12:32 -- scott.berry

A social network is a community of any size who share things in common. These networks are a tightly knit and interwoven tapestry that has become the fabric of society and the relaying of information…. useful and sometimes frivolous. There is no escaping however their growing importance in the social, news and political fields. They have become a way to get information to the masses.

From the internet’s beginnings, there has always been a need to inter-connect with others. That was the reason for its creation. I used the internet before there was a browser, a graphic desktop (os/windows), or a mouse. We typed on a black screen with green text using command words like Archie, Gopher, Veronica and Jughead, which sounded like comic book characters. This was the only way to communicate with others.

Social networks are not new but the way they are delivered is. Newsgroups, chat rooms, and bulletin boards have been there since the beginning of the internet. In the late 1990’s; before the current Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace, we use to use a simple msn chat room service to hold text conversations with people just for fun. These chat rooms connected us with our community and with the international communities around the world. These were the first true global tech culture. We would discover about new music, movies and really get a sense of another person’s community and their lives. If you liked them enough we would add them to our personal messenger profile as an “IM buddy”.

By the turn of the century newer and more exciting chat rooms started to appear in cyberspace. A few of the most notables were DoBeDo and Habbo Hotel. They were still essentially chat rooms but users were now able to create avatars (virtual representations) of themselves to interact with others. You go from place to place in these artificial environments chatting anonymously with anyone. The swelling of interest in these programs increased a sense of community and connection because users were able to engage in mass groups or clusters to converse. This is similar to real world conversations but virtual without any commitment.

With the rise in popularity of MySpace and Facebook personal spaces have become isolated pockets, social networks with their own rules, manners and characteristics. People or friends are added on the basis of knowing somebody offline or online and the screening process that was used in the days of the chat rooms is gone. Privacy is one of the top things experts are now discussing as having a limited life span in the future. Is it already gone?

Science Fairs have been increasingly using these networks to share information, and media (photos, text, video). This instantly provides up-to-date information on what is happening, what events have changed and important information that will make your time at the fair a success. We use websites for our regional science fairs, run our fairs on “Science Fair in a Box”, and now use many networks to reach the widest audience possible.

Canada Wide Science Fair 2011 has brought this to a new level. We are using Facebook,Twitter (@cwsf2011), YouTube and now the SMARTS Online Community. Watch for it!

With the amazing technology of smart phones, tablets or laptops used in combination with all of these networks you can always get up-to-date, or near instant information on the current status of the fair or your group.

What next?

Judges using tablets, 3D holographic science fair projects, holodecks...

Where do we go from here?