CampusNetwork broadens social web

With Monday’s expansion of CampusNetwork.com to include Yale in its network, Yalies now have a new online community where they can browse their classmates’ profiles, find friends at other schools and share information about college life.

CampusNetwork spokesman Wayne Ting, a Columbia junior, said the Web site, which also extends to Cornell, Dartmouth and Princeton universities, offers members opportunities to post weblogs, upload photographs and evaluate professors. The site launched by two Columbia University students in 2003 — predates thefacebook.com, a popular online community launched last year at Harvard that has since spread to 109 colleges and universities.

Ting said he and his partner Adam Goldberg, also a Columbia junior, started the site last year because they felt it would foster a better sense of community on Columbia’s New York campus. Approximately 75 percent of Columbia’s student body now uses CampusNetwork, Ting said.

“New York City has so many distractions,” Ting said. “Kids here really don’t spend that much time on campus, and many complain of a lack of community.”

CampusNetwork will allow Yale students to create detailed profiles, including such information as their body type, high school summer camp, and mood. The site also relies heavily on multimedia features, including 10 streaming radio stations and individual user photo galleries.

Christa Hutchinson ’08 said she thinks some of the Web site’s features, such as the option to meet friends for “a little something on the side,” give CampusNetwork a “edgier” feel than thefacebook.com, which she also uses.

“It definitely seems to be a little more risque,” Hutchinson said.

Ting said he thinks CampusNetwork’s appeal is different from other popular online communities, such as Friendster and thefacebook.com, because it emphasizes greater communication among students. He said other Web sites are great for finding friends but have little effect on students’ school life.

“The focus is very different between CampusNetwork and thefacebook,” said Ting, who himself is registered at thefacebook.com. “Beyond just the faces, it’s the meeting of minds and ideas to facilitate what we do in real life.”

Columbia senior Carrington Lee said she thinks CampusNetwork has enriched her social life because she has met students in different years and dormitories whom she may not have met otherwise. Since joining the network, she has found that friends she makes online often become more personal friends.

“At Columbia, and I’m sure at a lot of other intense schools, you tend to get [isolated] and have one group of friends,” Lee said. “[CampusNetwork] has been a great opportunity to meet new people.”

But Ting said he expects many students to use CampusNetwork simply as a way for procrastination, especially during examination periods.

“I think all kids at Yale are smart, but this CampusNetwork also wants to give them an escape,” he said.

Holly Wesselhoft ’08 said she thinks many of CampusNetwork’s multimedia features make it preferable to thefacebook.com. Wesselhoft said she thinks it will be difficult for CampusNetwork to supplant thefacebook.com, which has more than 4,000 members at Yale, but she said still thinks students will “always find time for procrastination.”

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