We all know about online social networking by now. As the practice gains visibility by word of mouth and through the media, other online social phenomena are getting exposure as well.
You may hear people talking about their social graph.
You will hear general references to social media.
And you will increasingly see and hear about social bookmarking. The most ubiquitous tool for this practice is a site called Delicious Bookmarks (until recently it had the unwieldy name Del.icio.us.com, which probably curbed its popularity).
What does it do? Simple: it does two very useful things. Social bookmarking...
allows you to share bookmarks with your contacts, colleagues and friends; and
makes it easy for people to find interesting bookmarks through labels, or "tags."
When you find a web page that you want to remember, or that others might find useful or interesting, instead of just adding it to your web browser's bookmarks (which only you can see), you might choose to add it to your Delicious profile.
Then you tag it with keywords that will lead like-minded web-searchers to it without having to click through a lot of Google search results.
If you didn't happen to see that article (and if I hadn't mentioned it here), you might never see it. Unless, that is, you subscribed to my bookmarks (or saw them in my Facebook profile, where they are published as part of the mini-feed). If you do subscribe, you'll be notified whenever I've added something I think is interesting and that relates to the scope and purpose of Alumni Futures.
Question: Is this kind of social bookmarking of use in higher ed advancement?
I think it depends on how effectively users of Delicious other social bookmarking sites tag their entries. A useful tag will tell others what general utility or relevance the site has for you.
But tagging is fraught with problems. Mashable's Chris Miller rightly points out that tags are a blessing and a curse:
Tagging is an art; a skill; and a dream. No one really gets trained in tagging and most companies never build a starter taxonomy kit properly. You end up with random misspellings, abbreviations and merged or underscored word sets everywhere.
With that in mind, Alumni Futures reader Paul O'Nolan (London, UK) recommends a standard tag for Delicious users to apply whenever a link or bookmark has value to alumni relations professionals.
The tag is, simply: alumnirelations.
Use it. I've already labeled a few of my own Delicious bookmarks with the alumnirelations tag.
And although Chris Miller overstates some of the problems with social bookmarking, he's right to admonish others to
be consistent, and
The more tags you use to label a single bookmark, the better it is for others. Using proper tags can make or break a set of shared bookmarks, and by extension, the entire practice.
In the future I'll write about using social bookmarks as a service for alumni.
From October 5th to 8th, educators and programmers from a wide variety of institutions will convene for the 20th consecutive year at Stanford's beautiful Sierra Camp in Northern California (close to South Lake Tahoe). This year's conference chair, Laura Gobbi of Mills College, says Minary is "the preeminent resource for alumni education professionals to exchange information and discover new ideas."
She may be selling it short.
It's really the only resource that covers on-campus education for alumni, regional faculty events, book clubs, reunion learning experiences, alumni colleges, online enrichment, travel/study and more. And it does it in a way that allows participants to become part of a close-knit community that extends beyond the physical meeting, to year-round exchanges on the Minary listserv (email discussion group).
The participants at Minary come from large institutions and small ones, public and private, institutions with long-standing commitments to alumni education and those seeking to begin such programming... Some are newcomers and some veterans, and many return to Minary year after year. This year's agenda covers an assortment of programming including strategic planning, collaborating with faculty, measuring success, and managing risks in travel programs.
Registration is now (early bird deadline is August 29th). Sign up using the registration link below.
Note on pricing: the Minary Conference cost includes lodging and meals — there are no additional hotel charges or meal costs during the conference.