Chemistry 2.0: Creating Online Communities

July 1, 2010 - Zürich, Switzerland

From Chemistry International, July 1, 2010, vol. 32, no. 4

by Javier Garcia-Martinez

This generation is totally into the web. In the USA, an astonishing 96 percent of students who have online access report that they have used social networking technologies. Fairly new technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging, Facebook, and MySpace, are part of the daily lives of the kids who fill our classes. And it’s not all about sharing music or organizing a plan for next weekend. Nearly 60 percent of our students use social networking to discuss education-related topics, and more than 50 percent specifically discuss schoolwork to support their education. . . .

Additionally, professional chemical associations such as the American Chemical Society (ACS) or the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) have created a wonderful set of web 2.0 initiatives. On 15 March 2010, the ACS Mobile Application “ACS Mobile” became available on Apple’s iTunes store. The new application provides readers with a live stream of peer-reviewed research content from across the spectrum of ACS journals right in their cell phones. More recently, Molecule of the Week, a popular feature on the ACS website since 2001, has been launched as a Mobile App. A new molecule is delivered to subscribers’ iPhones each week for them to guess what each molecule is, based on an image and the clue supplied.

Both the ACS and its flagship journal, the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) are now on Facebook, both with thousands of followers. These sites are regularly used to announce events, hold discussions, and provide breaking news, making them probably the fastest and most up-to-the-minute way to know what is going on in chemistry. But there is much more, the JACS beta site is a truly web 2.0 experience, with podcasts, mobile applications, and online interviews about new chemical discoveries, published weekly.

The Royal Society of Chemistry also has a wonderful set of web 2.0 initiatives, like the RSC and Chemistry World blogs. Personally, I am a big fan of its podcast on the chemical elements, Chemistry in Its Element, as I am of Distillations, the “extracts from the past, present, and future of chemistry” from the Chemical Heritage Foundation. . . .

(Link to CI)

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