In the last post, I noted the problems a list experienced when suddenly
swamped by several hundred design students. Many of you assign list
participation to students. Many of our doctoral candidates make increasing
and important use of electronic media. I am therefore taking the liberty of
bringing to your attention a valuable teaching and learning tool.
One of the most valuable tools you can place in the hands of a doctoral
student is Phil Agre's outstanding, evolving guide to using the Internet,
"Networking on the Net." The paper is a "... detailed guide to professional
networking both on and off the Internet. Although written principally for
advanced graduate students and others in academia, the underlying
principles apply widely."
"Networking on the Network" is available at URL:
Agre's brief introduction - section 1 of the paper -- discusses the purpose
and contents of the other 8 sections:
"Several million people employ electronic mail for some significant portion
of their professional communications. Yet in my experience few people have
figured out how to use the net productively. A great deal of effort is
going into technical means for finding information on the net, but hardly
anybody has been helping newcomers figure out where the net fits in the
larger picture of their own careers. These notes are a first attempt to
fill that gap, building on the most successful practices I've observed in
my twenty years on the net. I will focus on the use of electronic
communication in research communities, but the underlying principles will
be applicable to many other communities as well.
"Some cautions. Everyone's life is different, cultures and disciplines have
their own conventions, and it's all just my opinion anyway. Don't interpret
my advice as absolute rules of etiquette or morality, but rather as a
resource in figuring out your own personal way of getting around in your
particular professional world.
"Section 2 introduces the rationale behind professional networking and
explains why it is not just 'politics'. Section 3 provides a simple
six-step model of the networking process without reference to electronic
media. Section 4 introduces the use of electronic media for building a
professional identity, with particular attention to some common mistakes.
Section 5 then revisits the six steps of networking and explains how
electronic media can (and cannot) assist with them. Section 6 considers
several advanced topics: noticing emerging themes in your area, using
consultation to organize things, ensuring that you get proper credit for
your contributions, learning to engage professionally with people from
different disciplinary and cultural backgrounds, deciding where to publish
your work, and pursuing your professional networking when you cannot raise
the funds to travel adequately. Section 7 describes the relationship
between your professional network and your dissertation. Both of them
pertain to the process of knitting yourself and your work into a set of
professional relationships. Section 8 explains how to get an academic job,
building on the networking you've done and on the concepts that underlie
networking. Section 9 concludes with a few words on the role and
limitations of electronic media in community-building, together with some
general philosophical exhortations. An appendix provides an annotated
bibliography of books and articles on the topic of professional networking."
Phil Agre writes, "I want to get "Networking on the Network" into the hands
of every PhD student in the world. If you could help me out with this goal,
I would much appreciate it."
Helping him to meet this goal is a service to scholarship as well as to
those of us who read and use lists.
-- Ken Friedman