I've been uncomfortable with what I perceive as my students reluctance—or perhaps inability—to see themselves as professionals, so let me try different terms. In their study of the ways young people are using new media to communicate, play, socialize, and learn (Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project), Ito, Horst, and others distinguish between friendship-driven networks and interest-driven networks. I think this may be a more useful distinction for us in this class than personal and professional networks.
So what are friendship-driven networks? Well, Facebook and your cell phone messaging seem to be mostly friendship-driven. You use those tools to connect to your friends. They are what I've called personal networks.
What are interest-driven networks? Those are networks that you build in the pursuit of your interests. Facebook might be a tool in your interest-driven networks, but most people seem to want to keep Facebook for friends. Your cell phone could definitely be a tool in building your interest-driven networks, though most of you still seem to be using cell phones for friendship-driven networks. What about gDocs? gMail? gSites? gBlogger? Hmm.
But the question still remains? Why is most of your networking energy still invested in friendship-driven networks? Why aren't you just as busy pursuing your interests? How many of you even know what your interests are? Is it your major? your hobby? your faith? your community? your family? your friends? Which, I suppose, brings us back to friendship-driven networks.
One of my past IDST students, Elliott Holmes, is currently studying in Germany. He said that I could share his most recent wiki with you. Note that he set it up to manage work within a business class that he's taking. Mr. Holmes is on the net a lot, mostly pursuing his interests (though he manages to keep in touch with his friends). He's connected to lots of people who can contribute much value to his interest-driven network, his PLN, and he works hard to give back as much value as he gets. His interest-driven network is growing, and he will be successful.
So what are your interests? Are you developing the networks that will drive your interests? Are you developing a value-creating engine that will propel you beyond college and into the wider world? Elliott is.