Daily Archives: 19 April 2009

Where are the ichthyologists?

I have admired some MySpace pages by non-ichthyologist colleagues, complete with all personal data, list of publications, etc. They remain there even after said colleagues have moved from the address they left there. Maybe MySpace is not their or my kind of space.

I tried LinkedIn, which is a community for mostly business people, but does not offer much of services. There is a lot of people there that I know, but not much I can do except have the contact details up, and wait for a chain of contacts to grow. It says that I am linked to 33 900 other professionals. I do not know if that is good or scary, but it is more people than I know personally.

FaceBook is fun, and promises plenty. It seems to be a place where a few wrong clicks can open you up to the whole world to come say hello to you. That is not really my idea, as I am quite non-social in a way. FaceBook is not a professional meeting point.

Wait a minute, there was a community for systematic ichthyologists! It was the Newsletter of Systematic Ichthyology, which was published as xerox copies by Bill Eschmeyer and ichthyology staff at the California Academy of Sciences, largely handmade I understand. You had to send in a formatted resumé of what you “are doing now” (before Twitter …) and CAS colleagues formatted and sent it out. It was very helpful and spared you time and money otherwise to waste on going conferences. Helpful because you learned about what people were doing so you could avoid doing the same, or contact them if there seemed to be some interesting information around.

The Newsletter then was acquired by a project called DeepFin, which was about collaborative molecular fish phylogenies. And with that the collaborative newsletter disappeared in some cybervacuum.

And yesterday, I found the solution, which this time was not an ichthyological invention, but seems to be the platform we could make use of. It is called Epernicus, and apparently was developed at Harvard University, just as a social and professional community. What differs is that it is tailored for scientists, providing for each person a sort of presentational web page with space for academic exams, list of publications and CVs. For me that helps a lot, because I have a safe space for my publication list on the web, and I do not need to carry it with me all the time, and others can quickly find it and contact me for a reprint (I have a lot of publications in the grey literature sphere). There are many occasions in life when a CV and publication list is requested, and only a few of these times are convenient in terms of searching for them.

Why not set up a personal web page somewhere and it will always be found by a search engine? Yes, sure, would be nice, but I am tired of web-authoring. Also, with the available online tools provided by Google (like this blog), Twitter, Facebook, Epernicus, etc., I am not bound to any particular computer. For some of these web resources I can use my mobile phone to update the web information. Well, with this blog, Epernicus CV, Twitter so my family can keep track of me, gmail, and the Google office suite, I feel I have moved away one more bit from the desktop computer prison, and into something more difficult to figure out how it works, and certainly at the heart of the grid. But this is only the beginning of how the web will become a much less physical resource over the next few years. If there are any ichthyologists out there, let’s meet at Epernicus. Maybe someone can inform me what the word epernicus means?

And, yes, I have read The Traveller and The Dark River. Find out what’s up in the Vast Machine.