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Stanford medical school develops private, internal social-networking service to foster collaboration

To foster collaboration within the School of Medicine community, the school's Office of Information Resources & Technology (IRT) is launching a private, internal social-networking service, called CAP Network, this week. IRT leaders say the new system offers the potential to dramatically alter communication among faculty, students, postdoctoral scholars and staff like the changes wrought on a much larger scale by popular social-networking services. The new network is described in a School of Medicine news story:

The new system combines the medical school's Community Academic Profiles system, known as CAP, with a collaboration platform that allows users to share status updates, customize profiles, follow colleagues, form groups, share documents and even find research collaborators and mentors. While CAP had previously been limited to faculty and students, CAP Network provides full profiles for all staff members at the School of Medicine, bringing the total number of individuals in the system to nearly 10,000.

Once users have activated their accounts by logging into CAP for the first time (at, they can start using the new system to post updates, check what others are doing and build a network of colleagues. The range of collaboration features in CAP will be familiar to those who are already active on existing social networks.

...To help CAP users tell their stories, IRT has included a variety of tools similar to those found on LinkedIn and Facebook. Michael Halaas, the medical school's chief technology officer, explained: "CAP Network will allow our community to form private and open groups. You can securely share photos and files, and collaborate on documents. You can share ideas and refine those ideas. You can really connect with a broad range of people in completely different ways than we have traditionally."

IRT leaders believe the CAP Network system may be the first fully deployed social network at any academic medical center in the country, though there are other scientific social-networking services on the web today.

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