Wednesday 14 October 2015


There are a few of us who haven't signed up for Friendface. I don't have enough friends to make it worthwhile and I'm not really interested in seeing pictures of their children and grandchildren.  Once you've seen one child gurning gapped-tooth at the camera, you don't have to see more. These social-media sites come and go. Bebo died when the number of single men masquerading as teenage girls outnumbered the actual girls.  Some professional social-media sights seem to be gaining traction. I think I signed up with LinkedIn shortly after that enterprise started but as a very early adopter there was nobody there to smooze with, so I've long since forgotten my login details. Now that 5% of everybody is an active Linkedee, it's too crowded to give users any Masonic-insider advantage.

ResearchGate was started in Germany in 2008 and is meant to be for scientists only.  Nevertheless there are 7 million users including, since the end of September, me. For several months, I'd been getting e-mails from ResearchGate telling me that colleagues and co-authors were really anxious for me to sign up so we could all collaborate more vigorously and share data more equally. Aftre ignoring this spam for a long time, I was talking about it with my MSc student and . . . caved.  It was a bit of a bore. I had to do a lot of work for RG to help it/them establish just how broad and extensive my research career has been.  With many previous sign-ups associated with me, RG had a good idea of which papers were mine but before I could change my photo into something rugged, I had to trawl through a long list of publications by Scientist Bob, Scientist BT, Scientist B, Scientist TB, Scientiste B as increasingly unlikely guesses by the RG robots. Each one of which I had to claim or deny.  The default/suggested photo was kind of weird because it was clear that RG had looked for Bob T Scientist on and come up with a cartoon of cats from my peripheral involvement with the Irish Times crowd-sourcing cat genetics project from earlier this year. The whole registration process was not without value because I was able to claim as publications a handful of book-reviews I wrote in the later 1990s.  Everyone knows that these are not 'real' pubs because they are not peer-reviewed but they were are worth reading nevertheless.  on 3rd October I received an email with this banner:
. . . a very low bar has been negotiated, so tentative huzzah.

I've been getting 3-4 e-mails daily from RG ever since, trying to stir up my interest in other RG people's doings:
  • a chap who wrote a paper with someone I wrote a paper with [I danced with a man who danced with a girl who danced with the Prince of Wales] has written another paper about egg-yolk.
  •  a chap from India has viewed my profile
  • please 'endorse' the expertise of my Head of School at The Institute
This last is kind of weird because you're really doing RG's work for them. If my HoSch is claiming expertise in motorcycle maintenance, am I expected to scotch the lie?  A couple of days ago I got a message that my pal El Asturiano had "endorsed my expertise".  So I looked to see and discovered that I was meant to be an expert in 'cats' and assumed that El As was making a game of me.  Accordingly, I went to his profile and added "Asturianism" to his list of talents. The next day he added something peculiar to mine:
I guess my ability to make mince-pies at Christmas (and I've won prizes for that) is more useful and interesting than everything I know about biofertilizers which is just horse-manure.  I thought my coinage was a) damned clever b) original but it's been around for a while, having a tumblr site and[slow-load warning!] buzzfeed traffic.

No comments:

Post a Comment