Applied Mechanics News

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Applied Mechanics in the Age of Web 2.0

The ASME International Applied Mechanics Division has about 6000 members. The number is too large for us to know each other individually, but too small for CNN to cover us in the Situation Room.

Then came the Internet. We have since been in touch through emails, and looked up each other on the Web. Many web pages created in 1990s, however, are static. For such a web page, the bottleneck is often the webmaster. He or she gets a request each time anyone wants to post anything. It is more like a broadcast than a web.

In recent years, there have been waves of new internet phenomena, such as Wikipedia, Real Simple Syndicates (RSS), open-source movement, and web logs (blogs). They are collectively known as Web 2.0.

At the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Division on 8 November 2005, in Orlardo, Florida, the Committee discussed how to exploit Web 2.0 to engage members of the Division. As the new member of the Committee, I was assigned to look into the matter.

Did I just use the word “engage”? This sounds prohibitively Web 1.0 like. The Excecutive Committee is in no position to create an attractive web page to engage you. The solution is you, everyone in the community of Applied Mechanics. A key attribute of Web 2.0 is participation.

In front of you is an experiment: Applied Mechanics News (AMN), a blog of news and views of interest to the international community of Applied Mechanics. On the sidebar is a growing list of contributors, each posting independently. In steady state, the AMN and its asscocited blogs will have hundreds of contributors, so that each contributor will only have to post once or twice a year. As most news and views in AMN are not restricted to a single country or a single organization, the contributors will be international, and need not be ASME members.

At the end of the post, you can add comments, which will be visible to others. You can reach the AMN homepage by clicking "Home" at the bottome of this page.

From the sidebar of the AMN homepage, you can link to other blogs, each managed independently by a team of contributors, members of the international community of Applied Mechnaics, just like you. For example, one link takes you to a blog on "Research and Researchers".

Also from the sidebar of the AMN homepage, the link "Integrated Structures" takes you to a blog managed by the Technical Committee on Integrated Structures, one of 16 Technical Committees in the Division.

Now here is a question for you. What other blogs would you create to serve the community of Applied Mechanics? Of course, you can simply ask to be a contributor of an existing blog. You can also submit a news to a contributor, and receive a byline. If you are active in one of the Technical Committees, please contact the chair of your committee to discuss how you can participate in creating a blog of your own Technical Committee.

As a reader, you can display the latest headlines of AMN, along with the headlines in New York Times, Science, Nature, etc., using a start page. No more email spam. You can glance at the headlines of sources of your own choice, whenever you like, using any computer around the world. Each headline also links to a full article.

This blog uses a free service provided by Google. I was introduced to it by my teenage sons, and now my wife keeps a blog for relatives and friends. Teens are the pioneers of new technology adoption. Soon we will all use Blog, just as we have been using Word. Once this simple tool is in the hands of everybody, the only thing that really matters is content. And that means you. You are both the producer and consumer of a valuable thing: the content that is of and for the internationl community of Applied Mechanics. Teens cannot do this for us. Nor can CNN.

Notes
  • This post now serves as a description of our approach to AMN. As AMN evolves, we'll update the post from the initial post.
  • Creating a blog takes about 2 minutes and a few clicks.
  • There are now at least 27 million blogs in existence, with the number doubling every 5.5 months, according to Dave Sifry, the founder of Technorati, a leading blog search site.
  • About 20% internet users read blogs, said a Gallup's poll.
  • Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Want to edit it? Here is the entry on Applied Mechanics.
  • Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries, according to a special report in Nature.
  • Web 2.0 according to Tim O’Reilly, the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, a publisher of computer books. He coined the term Web 2.0 in early 2004.
  • A Google search of "Web 2.0" gives about 79 million results (9 April 2006).
  • We are the web. Each time we post an entry, or just make a hyperlink, we help to create a dynamic web. A perspective on the history and future of the Internet by Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine.
  • The best Web 2.0 software of 2005
  • 3 Comments:

    • This is an exciting approach for our community.

      By Blogger Wei Lu, at 1/12/2006 3:59 PM  

    • Very exciting and modern idea which shall surely benefit the applied mechanics society.

      By Blogger Qingda, at 1/16/2006 10:50 AM  

    • The 6 Divisions in the ASME Basic Engineering Technical Group have the following memberships:

      Applied Mechanics (5832)
      Bioengineering (2297)
      Fluid Engineering (3473)
      Heat Transfer (4066)
      Materials (2283)
      Tribology (609)

      By Blogger Zhigang Suo, at 2/19/2006 7:21 AM  

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