The Knowledge Management Strategy and Action Plan for Social Services in Scotland 2010-12 is very much focused on sharing and collaboration - ways of making it easy for people to share opinions, experiences, resources and knowledge with each other, usually with the objective of improving practice.
Facebook and Ning are two popular networks for sharing and collaborating while Communities of Practice the Public Sector, developed by the Improvement and Development Agency (IdeA), currently hosts several hundred communities, many of which are open to all. More specialised is the Community Builder Toolkit developed by NHS Education Scotland, which supports a number of health and social care communities. These services have one thing in common: they are communities or networks unbounded by geographical or physical boundaries.
Increasingly, LinkedIn - often regarded as a "professional" version of Facebook - is being used for communicating, sharing and collaborating. LinkedIn is a free-to-join service for building a network of contacts, creating groups on topics of interest and collaborating on projects. You create a profile that summarises your professional expertise and then invite trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections' connections, and the people they know, linking you to a wide number of other professionals in your sector.
A nice feature of LinkedIn is that you can create and collaborate on projects, gather data, share files and gain new insights from discussions with likeminded people in private group settings. While sharing and collaborating is the main advantage of joining LinkedIn, it also allows you to send private messages to people in your groups or networks, much like conventional email, as well as keep up-to-date with what's happening in your field.