Social Media: Academics meet Myspace

network.jpg As we have been saying for a while now if you are interested in social networks and the web, why not make a career out of it? Every company in the world worth its salt has a website and 90% of those websites have some monetizable component. Most companies would kill for a sharp, English-speaking young person who could explain ’web stuff’ in plain English. Talk about adding value as an entry-level employee! I mean, if every company has a website, and websites are increasingly being used for sales and information, doesn’t it make sense to study them?

Ahem! The aforementioned theory has received some serious validation. As the NY Times reported, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), has announced a new initiative to study the Web, boringly called, the Web Science Research Initiative. Aside form conducting emerging research in social networks and ’social sciences,’ one end goal is the formation of an undergraduate curriculum.

If I were a college student (Disclosure: I’m a grad student) I would lobby for an independent study in the social media area. Why? It’s fun, it’s fascinating and employers will eat it up. This is where things are headed: plus, it would be easy to create an independent study based off almost any major: econ, psychology, sociology, political science, etc

If you like this idea, or if you’re interested in adding a new affiliation to your resume/network, check out the International Network for Social Network Analysis and take a look over Fred Stutzman’s blog and PowerPoints at Unit Structures. The Kennedy School at Harvard has also launched a new program, although I have yet to get many details on it. It’s called the Program for Networked Governance.


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