Saturday, March 1, 2014

A brief history of StudyPartners.net

Yesterday evening, I re-watched The Social Network (2010) by David Fincher, with Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Despite the warts-and-all portrayal I liked Zuckerberg in the movie (I don't have any real notion of what Mark is like in 'real life'). The way Mark was prepared to act ruthlessly to protect his creation is something I could sympathize with from my own experience with Pathways to Philosophy.

The split with the Philosophical Society of England which led to the formation of the International Society of Philosophers in 2002 is a case in point. (I've talked about this in Glass House Philosopher Notebook I, page 133.) When it is clear to you that the people you are working with don't understand what is at stake or what needs to be done in order to carry the project through, then you have to do it your way and face the consequences.

But watching the movie also made me realize that my original idea for StudyPartners.net is that it would be everything that Facebook is not. And not in the relatively trivial ways that Twitter or the more 'serious' LinkedIn differ.

Studypartners.net is an ultra-minimal networking hub. It offers the only thing that knowledge seekers really need or want: as it says in the blurb, a chance to, 'Link up. Get help. Share ideas.' And that's it. No fancy API. No running total of your 'friends' or 'contacts' to boast about. No fascinating discussions of TV soaps or pictures of funny cats. 'It's all about your mind.'

Socrates would have approved.

You say a little bit about yourself and the kind of 'study partner' (a quaint phrase, I know!) you're looking for on your Profile page. If someone is interested, they can contact you on your social media page, if you have one, or on your StudyPartners Contact page.

(I hope that Rebecca doesn't mind my giving her page as an example, as she was the first to request a StudyPartners Contact page, after our recent upgrade.)

When you write your StudyPartners Profile, just be yourself. You don't have to sell yourself. You've got nothing to prove. You are not applying for a job! Just looking for knowledge seekers who are like you.

Originally, one idea we had was to offer StudyPartners a 1–1 conferencing space (moderated if necessary) but there were too few takers, and the idea soon paled. Email is a much better way to talk, less artificial, than a web page where everything you say, including things you wouldn't have said if you'd thought about it more, is up there more or less permanently.

The nice thing about StudyPartners, however, is that you don't have to publicize your precious email address and risk getting spammed, or worse. Your social media or StudyPartners Contact page acts as a buffer. Once you get to know someone, then you can exchange emails.

At the end of the day, the proof of a networking concept is whether people are actually prepared to sign up. Over the last few months, things have been picking up. It looks as though we might actually have a success on our hands. Not in Facebook terms, but this was never about numbers.

Small can be beautiful.

Geoffrey Klempner
philosophypathways.com/vita.html

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