WebJunction quietly rolled out the next generation of their popular interactive portal for us librarian-types this weekend. The new site promises increased interactivity, more features, and generally a more robust professional networking environment.
But who really needs another social network? Do you really want to spend time rebuilding a network of friends that you cultivated in Facebook or LinkedIn? The key here is the context. LinkedIn is great for surface-level networking -- the online equivalent of exchanging a business card. And Facebook is the penultimate environment for activities like sending "little green plants" to friends or gifting virtual pineapples to help promote the release of the new movie Pineapple Express. But if you're interested in networking with other librarians in a shared community of practice or taking an online course then you'll switch venues to WebJunction. Another key here is ownership. As a network created and maintained by people who we can presume share similar values and priorities when it comes to access to information, privacy, lifelong learning, and innovation, WebJunction has the potential to be something over which we can claim partial ownership. We can't say any of those things about LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Google.
Rather than encouraging you to hurry up and set up your account and take WJ for a spin, let me suggest that you wait a week or two. Put it on your calendar to check out next Monday. Today the site's servers are overwhelmed with activity and the site is incredibly buggy. That's not to say the new WJ doesn't hold a lot of promise. WJ Community Services Director Chrystie Hill recently summed up what you might find in a couple weeks if you come back to WJ after it settles down a bit:
WebJunction ... is not the Panacea. It is not perfect. It will not meet all of our challenges as individual library staff members, or as a professional force. And, needless to say, “there will be bugs.” There will also be things that certain ones of us will think ‘Hmm. Why is this like that?’ But let me also say that WebJunction, more than ever, is “by and for” the library staff who spend their time there. We’ve designed and delivered a new platform based on our collective needs, our combined interests, and what we’ve envisioned from the beginning as a powerful force for peer-to-peer sharing, resourcing, and learning.
When you do get around to building your community of friends in WJ, look me up and add me (jasonkucsma) to your network. I look forward to seeing you there.