Putting the “Network” in CFN

By April 24, 2007

We’ve been astonished by the response generated by the beta launch invitations that went out yesterday: so far, we’ve got 160 new CFN members in just under 24 hours! That’s a great clip – about one new member every ten minutes or so. Pretty exciting – welcome aboard, everybody!

So now that the CFN is taking shape at last, we can start thinking about how to use the website to connect students and faculty committed to free speech.

To that end, Professor Ken Doyle, a CFN member and the Director of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities’ Communication Research Division in their School of Journalism & Mass Communication, wrote us yesterday:

I’m looking forward to becoming involved. Free expression is my Number One priority. Will you be providing lists of students and faculty who join CFN, so we can get in touch with each other locally?

Here’s my response:

Hey Ken –

That’s a great question, and something we’ve put a lot of thought towards. We’d like the CFN website to be a networking tool, as the name implies, and to enable just the kind of school-specific communication you’ve mentioned. Of course, we also must respect the privacy concerns of CFN members, so publishing or distributing lists of members doesn’t seem to be a feasible option.

The best way to use the CFN website to facilitate local communication at this early, beta-testing point is by accessing your school’s record on the Spotlight after you’ve logged in as a CFN member. Once at your school’s page, you’ll be able to add comments, which could include, for example, an open call for like-minded students at your school to begin talking about teaming up and organizing. Only other CFN members will be able to see your comments, so the conversation can proceed from there.

That said, we’re always thinking about ways to improve the site, especially now that we have officially launched. If you have other ideas that you think would be more effective, let us know.

You’ll see by clicking on the Spotlight entry for the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities that Ken has taken the ball and run with it. We encourage all CFN members to do the same – let potential allies at your school know you’re out there!