Making Networks Thrive

Cathy Manduca
Research Associate, Carleton College
Digital Library for Earth Science Education
(DLESE) Outreach Coordinator

From my experience, the thing that makes a network thrive is strong content. There has to be a compelling reason to participate in the network? that means that a participant has to get out information, contacts, new ideas, or interactions that are important to them and enhance their work. The energy that people will put into participating in the network, or into overcoming barriers to access, is proportional to how much they are getting out of the network. I would like to see PKAL evaluate these new networks in such a way that we learn what the compelling content is that captures people's interest and serves their needs. The major pitfall to avoid is recruiting many people into a network without enough quality content to keep them engaged.