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Scitable: a social network for scientists and scholars

August 5, 2009 |  6:00 am

Antisense

Who said social networks were only good for socializing? 

Scitable.com is giving the often nebulous concept of social media a purpose by building an online community around scientific learning and knowledge exchange.

Scitable was launched by the 140-year-old Nature Publishing Group, whose flagship journal Nature is among the best-known peer-reviewed science publications. The site says its social network membership numbers in the hundreds of thousands, and it's clear from paging through the members that it has attracted young scientists from across the planet.

Students and teachers can exchange information, ask each other questions, and read through various peer-reviewed articles on different topics.  The site, still new, is heavily oriented toward genetics -- a discipline the site's creators chose for its renewed interest after the election of President Obama, who lifted the Bush-era ban on stem cell research.

A few science-oriented social platforms have popped up with names like Labmeeting.com, SciVee.tv, and Nature Network, another Nature-led community for professional scientists. 

Scitable is rather less flashy than leading social communities like Facebook and Twitter. Its static, Web 2.0 feel might be a point for improvement, especially if it's hoping to capture the interest of a younger generation of students used to video, slideshows and real-time messaging. 

Still, Scitable is an incarnation of what a connected world will do for science, study and eduction -- that is, bring both the world's information and its minds to within a few clicks of each other.

-- David Sarno

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