Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Social Networking Panel at INFORMS in Austin, Texas

This morning the Social Networking and Operations Research panel took place at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

The panel was organized by Professor Laura McLay of Virginia Commonwealth University and joining me on the panel were: Professors Wayne Winston of Indiana University, Mike Trick of Carnegie Mellon University, and Auriele Thiele of Lehigh University.

The panelists first introduced themselves and discussed briefly their blogs and social networking experiences. Then McLay led the Q&A with the panelists with further give and take with the audience. The audience was terrific and very international -- thanks for showing up to this 8AM session!

Some of the questions that were discussed (and would merit further give and take):

Which have been your most successful/popular posts and what do you attribute their popularity to?

How do you handle rude/inappropriate/negative comments?

How do you manage the time involved in preparing your blogposts?

How have your experiences with social networking tools evolved over the years? What do you see happening with social networking over the next couple of years? Are there new business models and innovations that you can foresee that may be successful? How can operations research help with new business models in this area?

How does one establish credibility on the blogosphere?

The session was recorded and if it gets posted, I will let you know.

In the meantime, some of the highlights and insights:

1. Blogging is an enjoyable activity if you like to write and comment (it need not take much time but it takes a while to draw an audience and you need to do it regularly, just like exercise, I might add).

2. It is a terrific way in which to get news out and to get discussions going in our discipline.

3. There is room for longer posts (and links to essays and white papers) and at the other extreme Twitter with the latter a good way in which to get timely news and info out quickly.

4. Writing about people, issues, and activities (including sports and related figures and events) seems to increase the audience for your writings.

5. Providing careful analysis in your posts can increase one's credibility.

6. Social networking tools are a great way in which to draw students into operations research and the management sciences.

7. We are not journalists but journalists do draw information from blogs.

8. Increasingly, administrators and public relations and communications officers of colleges and universities are looking favorably on bloggers at their institutions.

This was a very enjoyable panel and a great way in which to begin the INFORMS conference.

The weather here in Austin, Texas is sunny and gloriously mild!