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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Social network for UC system launches this week

UCMeTalk, a social network designed specifically for students, alumni and staff members of the UC system, is slated to launch this week.

The project, which is founded and operated by students, is intended to be used as a tool for past and present students and faculty members who wish to expand their professional network.

In order to cater to users looking to expand their pool of professional contacts, the website utilizes a video interface system which promotes more personalized interaction.

Project Manager Nazir Katbi likened the video interface system to that of the popular website Chatroulette. Users will be paired at random to speak with other users who are online at the same time.

However, this video match-up is not entirely randomized. According to Katbi, there are filters which can be activated to narrow the results of the pairing process.

Most importantly, users can filter the results of the match-up process based on both their major and their university.

“Basically, it’s good for meeting like-minded students within the UC system or your school,” Katbi said.  “You can build your professional network before you graduate.”

This system of result filtration is meant to ensure that the project personally benefits as many students, alumni and faculty members as possible.

However, these are only some of the features that come with what is said to be merely the first beta launch.

“[The beta launch] is phase one,” Katbi said. “It’s a fundamental building block that we’re building an entire network off of in the future.”

According to the project’s official Tumblr page, ucmetalk.tumblr.com, as the program advances, more career-enhancing packages will be added on to emphasize network enhancement.

The purpose of this is to offer students further outlets through which to expand their academic and professional careers. However, the manner in which students will respond to the launch of yet another social network remains to be seen.

“I realize the benefits of being able to contact students and faculty from other UC’s who share your interests and majors,” said sophomore neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Annie Lyon. “However, if I needed to contact them, I would probably use a system other than a surprise video chat; something more traditional like e-mail.”

On top of being skeptical about making the transition from more “traditional” means of communication to video chat, other students question the need for another social network at all.

“I might try it out, but there are already so many other social networks out there,” said Lilly Flores, a sophomore technocultural studies major. “It’s hard enough to keep up with them all as it is.”

For the time being, however, the UCMeTalk Team is focusing on establishing a reputation within the UC community that sets them apart from other social networks.

As part of these efforts, they are currently engaging with students on a more personal level — encouraging them to sign up at ucmetalk.com for pre-registration before the official beta launch.

On top of this, they have given presentations at UC Irvine and UCLA and tabled on the UC Davis main quad in order to raise awareness about the project.

DYLAN GALLAGHER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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