Entries in academia (2)
I've been spending a lot of time at the British Library lately, researching for the '21 Hours Experiment.' It occurs to me that at any given moment researching along side me are people with equally cool and related projects. Wouldn't it be great if when you entered a reading room at the British library and chose a desk, there would be a card reader at the desk (or likewise a terminal that would read an identificatier from your smart phone) that would check you in to the network. A research profile you've created online stating your research objectives and interests, including a picture and your seat number would then be visible on several flat screens placed around the room (you know, descretely so as not to ruin the historical environment of the rooms) as well as on an app on your smartphone. You only check in if you don't mind being bothered that day for a chat about what you're working on, or would like to work on. Then researchers (academicians, PhD students), who tend to be incredibly self-obsessed reclusive types could actually talk to each other, learn from each other's ideas, and who knows, that may spark new ideas of their own and lead to more insightful research.
Sound like you've heard something like this before? You have if you've been anywhere near Warwick University's postgrad working centres. They don't have a card reader system but their postgrads can opt to appear on a screen that cycles through research profiles, located in their postgrad reading room. That way, other postgrad students can see what their peers are researching and combine forces. Absolutely brilliant innovation from Anne Bell, the head librarian.