Case for academia

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Federated social web technologies are good for academics, for universities as a whole, for students and for teachers.

  • Universities can run their own social networks on the federated social web. Universities often provide email addresses to their students, staff and faculty; providing an identity on the federated social web would give many of the same benefits of reputation and authenticity that a university domain email address or web page does.
  • Social network available to everyone at the university. Not all students, staff and faculty will be on any given social network. By providing a social network account to everyone at the school, a university can ensure that social features and connections are available to all.
  • Integration with other software. Social networks run by the university can be integrated with other software, such as the course calendar or student housing directories. It can automatically connect students in the same class with their classmates and instructor, for example.
  • Better features for academia. Rather than waiting for commercial social networks to provide academic features, or building on top of commercial platforms that perhaps not all students will use, universities can develop or buy social features for their own networks.
  • Connections with peers worldwide. With federation technologies, students and faculty at one university can connect and collaborate with people at other universities around the world. That's what the Web and the Internet are all about, after all.
  • Academic freedom. Commercial social networks are developed and organized to advance commercial interests. Their terms of service or other policies may not be in harmony with standards of academic freedom advocated by academic organizations. Networks run by and for students, staff and faculty can focus on the kind of free exchange of ideas that universities pride themselves for.
  • Advancing Web science. Social networks developed by a single organization don't encourage participation by other parties. Federated social web technologies let researchers in computer science and social sciences experiment and contribute to the global good.
  • Advancing data science. Data in social network silos is difficult or impossible for researchers to access. Researchers with control of the network(s) themselves can get much more data.
  • Public Domain Journals. A scientific journal is a stream of peer-reviewed articles. Printed journals are highly monopolized by commercial publishing companies who extract a lot of money from university libraries. By pre-publishing articles online, this problem is partially solved, but the infrastructure needed to conduct peer-review on these can be added by a federated social web of scientists.