You know online social networking has reached critical mass when physicists get their very own social network. While AIP UniPHY isn't exactly Facebook, it is a networking site devoted to connecting physical scientists to one another. In September, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) unveiled the launch edition of AIP UniPHY-a scientific networking platform where scientists can communicate with colleagues, identify potential collaborators, and keep up with competitors.
UniPHY is home to about 180,000 scientists' profiles, all of which are prepopulated with basic information about the scientists' publishing histories and careers. The network makes connections between co-authors, and users can search profiles based on any number of criteria: research interests, co-author, or location, just to name a few.
Though UniPHY lacked some of the social networking basics-such as the ability to upload a photo-when it debuted, Tim Ingoldsby, AIP's director of strategic initiatives and publisher relations, said upgrades were planned for release at the end of 2009 that would allow users to do things such as add a curriculum vitae or information about research grants. UniPHY is a cool tool for scientists looking to make professional connections-and for anyone looking to keep tabs on the rock stars of the scientific community.
Even the most informed citizens often find themselves wondering exactly what the government is up to or if their senators really practice what they preach. The Washington Post Co. is trying to answer those questions for us, though, and it's relying on the wisdom of the crowds to do so with WhoRunsGov.com.
In January 2009, the beta site launched as a reference site. But by September, it had turned into a moderated wiki, allowing citizens to contribute what they know. An in-house editor reviews all user-generated content prior to publication, ensuring a measure of accuracy. Registered members can edit existing entries or add new names to the directory.
The site features profiles of prominent government officials, as well as lobbyists, experts at think tanks, and interest groups. As part of its Reform Tracker project, the site also tracks and tallies the stands of all senators and members of the House. In another site project, Who Runs Gov 2.0, people can help profile the government's technology gurus. In an era when the White House itself is pushing for transparency, WhoRunsGov.com is a sort of watchdog group while it also provides research tools to the journalism community.