(I sent this to Joanne earlier today and she encouraged me to post it as a way to invite a discussion, which I've done in a slightly modified form below. LW)
I'm here at the MHF-produced local history conference, and was told about the Ning group that you're leading.
I'm fairly familiar with social networks and I've just spent some time with the site. I'll sign up and look forward to seeing as the way in which it evolves.
I also just started this interest group: http://mastudies.ning.com/group/localhistory
I'm puzzled, however, as to the central organizing vision of the mastudies Ning group. Specifically, what will members of such a broad group ("humanities") get out their participation? I see social networks as tools to achieve an objective, and while I have several objectives as they relate to my participation on the Marlborough Historical Society Board of Trustees and the Marlborough Historical Commission, I'm trying to connect MAStudies.ning.com with those objectives, so looking forward to hearing your vision.
(Note that I understand some of the interest groups, which could also easily be run as stand-alone ning groups. In fact, for many of us, geography (our city or town, part of the state, Massachusetts, New England . . .) is not an important distinction when it comes to sharing ideas and insights. The broader and more far-reaching the better, which argues for stand-alone groups that draw much more broadly than from just Massachusetts.)
And so my question, Why are we here? More importantly, why are you here?