AECT as social network: tapping into the expertise of its members to assure our future
Shortly thereafter the Electronic Services Committee was reestablished. While no longer on staff, I remain a member of AECT, so my input to the Committee and to this discussion are certainly appropriate. Many on the Committee are Web 2.0 proponents, so I’m cautiously optimistic that this post will garner some consideration.
From Wikipedia: A social network is a social structure made of nodes which are generally individuals or organizations. It indicates the ways in which they are connected through various social familiarities ranging from casual acquaintance to close familial bonds.
AECT is a network: an academic, professional, and social network. Teacher Education, Multimedia Production, conference planning, TechTrends... each of these is a part (a node) of a bigger picture (a network) and each are connected to AECT by way of its activities. Those activities are documented by the written works of each node’s scribes: communications officers, editors, and other duly-recognized authorities. None of these nodes requires an overarching editor or gatekeeper between its chronicles and those who share interest in them.
That AECT’s web services can benefit from a communicative model of a social network should be a no-brainer. A web site which still carries a 2001 copyright notice is as outdated as its web technologies and operative philosophies: that is to say, stuck in time. MySpace, the incredibly successful social-networking website, earlier this month signed up its 100,000,000 member and continues to grow at a rate of about 500,000 each and every week. AECT is not MySpace but the social network metaphor couldn’t be a better fit (if we could grow at a rate of five members a week, we'd be out of financial trouble in no time). The current model for MySpace was launched in 2003, at about the time I began promoting member-managed content for AECT web services.
AECT’s membership roll has stagnated; membership turnover indicates we are doing something wrong. One of the things we are doing wrong, I insist, is keeping a top-down communicative model while purporting to be a member-driven Association.
Member-managed content and the extension of a social network model to our web services may not be the only way we can emerge from this stagnation, but clearly a website that still holds onto its 2001 content model – which draws attention to that by not even having the energy to change its copyright notice in five years – can not expect to dig itself out of its rut.