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Nature Network London launches

Jennifer Rohn 25 March 2007

www.lablit.com/article/233

Join the experiment: network.nature.com/london

Will the London science community be able to nurture their Network into a vibrant and dynamic space?

Nature Network London, the second ‘local’ online space of the Nature Network family, has just gone officially live. Nature Network, brought to you by the Nature Publishing Group, was created to help scientists worldwide to get together, exchange views and share useful information free of charge. In addition to the global site, local city hubs will be brought online to provide tailored information and to foster real-life contacts. Nature Network Boston went live a few months ago, and now London is with us too.

There’s no doubt that this step was inevitable, but it’s all a bit of an experiment. In the Web 2.0 environment, you get out what you put in, so it’s still an open question whether busy scientists will feel they have enough time to spare from their research to make this work. There’s no doubt that certain passive features will be really useful, such as city-specific job advertisements and listings of seminars and events, and that the articles and features about London science life will be entertaining. But in an age when downtime is precious, where there is an online venue for every aspect of life, where thousands of blogs and fora are started and abandoned each week (with many receiving no comments at all), will the London science community be willing and able to nurture their Network into a vibrant and dynamic space? And can the internet really compete with London's time-honored traditional scientific information exchange venue, the local pub?

If anyone could make this work, it would be the Nature empire. I’ve been involved in the initial focus groups and in preliminary site testing, and so far have been favorably impressed. After only a few exchanges, I’ve already made a connection that has allowed me to commission an excellent article for LabLit.com – and this was from someone I’ve met previously in real life (but without tags, then, to alert me to the shared interest). I’m enjoying the commentary and look forward to making my own mark – and I encourage all London scientists to think about participating in this intriguing new social experiment too.

Just visit this page to get started.