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  • So we're playing around with adding scientific networking to OWW. Scientific networking is like social networking but:
    1. is for scientists
    2. doesn't involve embarrassing pictures of you posted by your degenerate friends (e.g. its professional)
  • We're trying out some software here:, feel free to take a look/sign up but expect it to go down or be changed to something different arbitrarily. Another test:
  • Mailing list for discussing nerdbook - sign up here.

Problems with peopleaggregator

  1. one-way friendships should not be allowed
  2. multi-tiered friendships should not be allowed
    • should be easy to form groups and then share information only with certain groups, but there shouldn’t be like “best friends”
  3. should call it colleagues instead of friends
    • we are NOT trying to be a social network, we are a scientific network.
  4. why are there 2 groups “relations” and “added as a friend by”
    • there should just be one group of colleagues. (that have been approved by both parties).
  5. Video, Audio, Image tabs can go, just a blog tab seems sufficient.
  6. Messages should include the photo of the sender next to the message. Also it shouldn’t be like an inbox (I already have one of those on gmail which is much better – it should be like the facebook message area, just for short blurbs).
  7. Should add a “Questions” tab
    • e.g. I should be able to post a question which would come up on the recent changes feed of anyone in my network.
    • Should be able to send out questions to people outside of your friend group; e.g. I should be able to post a question about protein purification to everyone who has listed it as a specialty of theirs. If a user doesn’t want to get that many pings they can turn off the feed from that group, or restrict it to only people in their network. But it would be on by default.
  8. “Papers” tab.
    • need to think more about how to structure this, but this could be very, very cool. This would be why you browse the site. For instance, you only regularly cruise facebook to check out people’s photos.
  9. Change “family” to “lab”
    • I think we can establish the lab as a sort of “special” relationship. That way, by default we create the idea of forming groups. The trouble with the “how are you related to this person” thing in facebook is that there are like 50 choices, and it doesn’t buy you anything to actually fill them all in. Labs are obvious mini-communities that we should build.
  10. You should have to fill in your institution to begin with.
    • similar to facebook, this makes it a lot easier to find people.
  11. Tabbed organization could do with some flattening so that we maximize the info availability of any given page (like the new widgetized facebook)
  12. Should blogging really be a feature? (open question)
    • generally, the value of networking sites is in their ability to coalesce people based largely on the accessibility of regimented information that users are encouraged to enter and maintain. blogs seem somewhat tangential to that concept--almost by definition because of their free-form nature.
    • if users want to blog, there are many better portals through which to do that. e.g., at a minimum, it's easy to blog on a wiki interface like OWW. so maybe we can find a clean way to integrate OWW content, which will also encourage ppl to become OWW users.
    • Their blogs include community blogging which are just like message boards for communities which I think we want.
      • Yes, at a group level, media-rich discussion groups for groups seem to make sense. But at the larger scale, the notion of an overarching community blog (like what's on the front page of nerdspace right now) probably isn't really viable or valuable. At the other end of the spectrum on the individual user level, the notion of blogging is probably best left to other interfaces like OWW.
  13. Simplify graphic design to look utilitarian and professional
  14. Think about useful information aggregators (rather than lame postings lists)
    • posted paper citations that are most popular over some recent time period (maybe organizable by groups of which i am a member)
    • popular conversation threads in groups of which i am a member
    • feed of changes to my colleagues' profiles (e.g. sri kosuri now works for mike laub. jason kelly posted an OWW link called "a cure for cancer! omg!" victor lelyveld now operates an amazingly expensive mass spec because his lab is loaded. etc...)
      • As an aside having these group relationships integrated would be great for OWW, where I could easily create watchlists for all changes by my network, etc. A feed of changes anyone in my network makes on OWW would be cool to plug into nerdbook as well, works both ways.
        • I know this sounds crazy, but one could think of this whole thing as an alternative organizational hierarchy for OWW.

Problems with elgg

List things that should be changed based on your experience playing with the existing software.

  • skills list should make tags that automatically do a search of people that have the same skill... (similar to how facebook lets you look at people with the same interests)
  • doesn't seem as powerful as peopleaggregator

Feature requests

List the things stuff that would be specific to scientists that you wouldn't get out of a place like facebook.

  • Equipment -- list of the equipment i have access to (would be highly useful at an institute level network).
  • Skills -- experimental/scientific expertise (useful at all levels)
  • Papers -- would be nice to interface with connotea or citeulike, so people could share papers.
  • Questions to the right people.
  • Collaborations with people who you wouldn’t have even known otherwise.
  • low-barrier connections
    • e.g. to find someone you only met once, and who it would have been weird to ask their phone number or email
  • scientific trees - this might be a feature that people would go back to check out.

New name? :)

  • Nerdbook appears taken.
  • appears to be available as of 2007-03-11


  • Jasonk 14:38, 10 March 2007 (EST): To help brainstorm feature requests I think it's worth thinking about what would be useful interacting at (a) the lab level (b) the institution level and (c) worldwide.


  1. I don't know my labmates' opinions of papers that are important in our field.


List things that are ridiculous about how we currently collaborate at the institute level

  1. I have little to no idea what most other MIT student's projects are.
  2. I have little to no idea what most other MIT student's skills are.
  3. I have little to no idea what equipment most other MIT lab's have.
  4. I have a very small network of people to ask stupid questions to.


  1. I don't read nearly enough interesting papers.
  • Hopefully Nature Network will get some of this stuff right, there's some posts here about things that scientists might want.
  • If we used this to manage groups for OWW users that would let us do soemthing like "create a private wiki for group X" or "add edits from all members of group X to my watchlist", etc... seems like this would be a nice way to integrate something this with OWW and provide a better service to OWW users.