LinkedIn is one of those networks where I created an account years ago and quickly lost interest. The interface seemed underdeveloped, and still does (though this is not isolated just to LinkedIn; I’m looking at you, Flickr). And at the time, there was not the critical mass of people in the educational games, games in education, and games research sectors signed up to it, so it was a somewhat “lonely researchers club”.
I’ve returned to it of late; largely because of needing to sort out my entire online work presence, but also because there was a sudden ticking over of “connection requests”. And I’ve found it – now – to be surprisingly useful from a work perspective. Rather than bumble around on university websites looking to find actual research and researchers – which is increasingly difficult as universities become relentlessly commercial and non-profit activities become buried under layers of other stuff – it’s been easier to home in on directly relevant research and researchers through this service.
In addition, the suggested connections algorithm of LinkedIn has been throwing up a lot of also directly relevant researchers who I did not know existed. True, there’s also some misses in there, and some suspicions about what LinkedIn is actually harvesting, pulling all of the primary data from. But these can be immediately ignored, and the hit rate for interesting – from the perspective of work – people has been usefully high. It also doesn’t take long before getting a sense of the main centers of games in education research and academic activity, especially the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the University of Skövde in Sweden, the IT University of Copenhagen, and Tampere University in Finland. Putting the names of some of the suggested people straight into Google Scholar has thrown up quite a few articles and papers of completely direct use that I also wasn’t aware of, and hadn’t come up in previous literature searches.
So, despite the 2003-style interface and the fact that LinkedIn may be quietly harvesting my entire laptop and wider social network for data (really, why else does it suggest my solicitor for connecting to?), I’m finding this particular service useful. If you do similar research or work and want to hit me up, I’m at: