Over on my own blog, I wrote a short post about BusinessWeek's social network yesterday. Business Exchange is well-linked from the print magazine, and offers an opportunity for writers and readers to gather and share resources that inform or relate to stories. The site's been in beta since September, and includes such diverse topics as the US Economy and my own contribution, the Semantic Web.
Writing yesterday's post caused me to revisit something I've been wondering about for a while. Is there a 'best' place to conduct conversations about topics such as the Semantic Web? Are there too many places, fragmenting the conversation, or are we simply seeing healthy - and natural - choice at work?
Clearly there is huge value in engaging through physical events such as Semantic Technology, but these events can be expensive, their value will diminish if they get too big, and they occur at fixed locations and times.
Online, there's 'my' Business Exchange topic, 'my' (surprisingly popular, with over 3,000 members) LinkedIn Group, diverse active mailing lists such as that for W3C's Semantic Web Interest Group, a multitude of twines inside Twine, and more.
In theory, the fragmentation should be useful in allowing people to self-select the form, frequency and specificity of their engagement with a topic such as the Semantic Web. Most of the time, Business Exchange should probably appeal to a very different person than W3C's mailing list. In reality, though, how easy is it to decide which group is for you? And do many of us simply end up joining most of them, consequently fail to find time to engage properly with any of them, and probably end up cross-posting the 'important' stuff to all of them anyway?