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More wired than a Roman Internet café

All too often folks have the image of a Classics scholar cloistered in a library carel somewhere conjugating aloud or scribbling inter-linear translations aided only by the light of a single, dwindling candle, and the Oxford Classical Dictionary (and not the eBook version). Personally, I don't believe that scholarshop of any stripe should be a solitary activity. True, one must master fundamentals, but one can get assistance there and can later turn that network into a collection of tough-but-fair peer reviewers for more "serious" research.

In the past, this network was connected via letters, conferences, down-the-hall on-campus visits, and, more likely than not, pubs. While this is still the case, we now have e-mail, the Wikipedia (even the one in Latin), Perseus. But is the research and scholarship still isolated? Tools like on-line social networking (like this ning site here) seem to lend themselves to dialogues about the state of the art (or science). But those carel-bound geniuses and Wheelock-whipped schoolboys can use the space, too, as peer-helps and as a place to talk about the study of what we dearly love, sharing that dialogue with all who will listen, and with some who will dive in to the conversation.

How do you perceive social networking sites, and can they benefit not only established scholars but enclaves of budding ones, too?

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Yeah, I kind of had this notion in my head too.

Suffice to say, that notion was completely trashed at the Lexington Conventiculum. We drank beer, discussed Erasmus, checked our e-mail and went to lunch all while speaking Latin. I even read a Star Trek version of 38 Latin Stories.

That said, I'm not sure about social networking sites in general. MySpace may color my thinking, which I guess I think of in a different way than say Yahoo! groups, e-mail discussion lists or various discussion fora. So here's my opinion about various interfaces:

1. MySpace. I'm not sure what to think about MySpace at all. I've got half a notion to delete my account there.
2. E-mail lists. I've got mixed feelings. I like the discussion, but don't like having my e-mail box stuffed with messages. It starts to feel like a job.
3. Yahoo! Groups. Kind of a middle ground between a pure e-mail list and discussion forum.
4. Discussion forum. I like these best. I can check them when I want. I can go away for a week and not come back to a full mailbox. But that could be just how I work the internet and different from everyone else.

Overall, I have found online discussions to be useful to my teaching time.




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