No, they’re not places to find a date. OPLNs, or Online Personal Learning Networks, are informal, customizable and (very often) free ways to interact with other people in your profession online. In the blog post, Learning Everywhere, Tracy Maniapoto states that OPLNs are “unique learning environment[s] where we learn what we want or need to learn using the vast resources and people online.” In other words, the Internet is out there, use it! There are so many Web 2.0 technologies out there to explore, you should not be wasting them all on pictures of your dog. The free, professional resources available are plentiful, useful and increasingly easier to find and manage. There is no excuse not to dive right in (and I’m mostly saying this to benefit myself). I bet if you evaluate the way you use the Internet, you will find a number of OPLN-type sites you use on the reg. I, personally, get a great deal of free information (and awesome resources) by following different libraries, library professionals and organizations on Twitter, which is a great resource for those just starting out creating their own personal learning networks. But, wait, there’s more! Twitter and Facebook are just the tip of the OPLN-iceberg! There are also countless blogs, wikis, podcasts and listservs. Not to mention, there are ways to aggregate all this information, like RSS feeds (Google Reader, Demon Feed) and online dashboards (Netvibes, Symbaloo). I, for one, plan to more accurately define and refine my OPLN in the next few months as this Metadata class takes root. Specifically, I plan to download an online dashboard, probably Netvibes, to keep all my professional resources together. I suggest you all do the same!