Social networking applications allow users and groups to define themselves individually, but, more important, they can help people to make connections and form relationships across geographic and social boundaries. Strong networks of relationships help to sustain communities by creating spaces for
brainstorming, deliberation, sharing, and memory.
While information portals can wither and die from lack of use and often require great expense and time for administrators to update and refresh, social networks encourage user participation and user-generated content. What sets social networks apart from other portal systems is the ability for users to define the issues that are important to them through the language and resources that speak to their specific community and needs.
To this end, MATRIX has begun to do research into social networks. As part of this research, MATRIX has developed a social networking application called Connex.
Connex is an online, social networking tool that allows users to gather, discuss, and publish resources that are important to community groups. Users can work together to build a wiki presence while, at the same time, share a space to work, socialize and create relationships.
Key Features of Connex
- Easy to use interface: simple navigation and online publishing tools
- Users can share resources with other users and begin to define and explore issues in a larger context by creating online spaces for existing groups and by forming new interest groups.
- Groups can easily upload documents, images, audio and video.
- Groups can share online resources and enhance their usability through social tagging.
- Groups can establish membership directories and share information that will only be accessible by group members.
- Community wide and group tools, such as a Wiki, allow users to create new resources, documents, and newsletters.
- Individual and groups can share events and news; a calendar feature will allow users to track the latest events of groups and communities.
- Individuals and groups have ³file cabinets² to organize and annotate resources.
- Users can build a profile to define their interests and group interests and can list associates and memberships in groups and communities.
- Users and groups have easy access to online publication and communication through blogs and forums.
- RSS feeds push new information and events to users.
- Administrators will have a host of tools to track networks and report information
See sample networks at the Community Connex portal page.