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Monday, May 07, 2007

Brandon Hall Network - Back from the Dead?

I just saw a post from Tim Sosbe -The “New” Network that tells us the following about the Brandon Hall Network,

We’ve been building this for a large part of the past year, constantly tweaking the service and offering new capabilities in order to make it the premier place for learning professionals and talent managers to collaborate, share resources and make new connections.


If you’ve read other blogs claiming the Network is dead, consider that a great exaggeration!

I feel somewhat bad because if you Google search "Brandon Hall Network" the results give you a couple of links to Brandon Hall and then links to a few of my past posts around the network such as: Brandon Hall Network - Nicely Done? and Brandon Hall Researchers Blogging - Implications? where I predict and then roughly say told-you-so that "my guess is that this is going to be a big failure."

This is nothing against the folks at Brandon Hall - in fact, I've had conversations offering ideas of where they might be able to get traction. I would actually like to believe that the community of people interested in the use of technology for learning and performance support would form a vibrant online community, exchanging ideas, making connections, etc.

Unfortunately, as I expressed in Too Many Social Networks, I'm somewhat skeptical that having a lot of networks will really take hold. And, it's worse when you are targeting a particular community that doesn't have a great adoption rate. It takes a lot to get from putting up the network software to getting widespread adoption. Maybe Brandon Hall or a Ning community will take off. Or maybe someone like ASTD will adopt Ning and give it a huge push. Or maybe the eLearningGuild. But it's hard to compete with open models based on stuff like blogging (which has been - by far - my best online social networking tool ever - far beyond discussion groups or anything else).

As caveat to all of this predicting - if you had demoed MySpace to me in the early days - I would have been pessimistic about its chances as well. I mean, c'mon, have you ever seen MySpace? It's got to be the ugliest application ever. And lots of people are putting big bets right now on being able to form communities around particular interest areas. So, maybe Brandon Hall will take off (but I'll stick with my earlier prediction.)

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