January 11, 2008

Science 2.0 hits the big time

Or at least lands in Scientific American.

SciAm is trying out a really interesting experiment. One of their journalists, M. Mitchell Waldrop, has written an article on Science 2.0, which is timely but not revolutionary. What is a bit revolutionary is that they've mounted a draft of the article on their web site and are inviting readers to comment on it, shaping the tone and content of the final version which will appear in the print mag. As of today, there have been 24 comments, some positive, some skeptical, some ranting. But, hey, that's web 2.0 for ya.

A taste of the draft version:

The technologies of Web 2.0 open up a much richer dialog, says Bill Hooker, a postdoctoral cancer researcher at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland, Ore., and the author of a three-part survey of open-science efforts in the group blog, 3 Quarks Daily. "To me, opening up my lab notebook means giving people a window into what I'm doing every day. That's an immense leap forward in clarity. In a paper, I can see what you've done. But I don't know how many things you tried that didn’t work. It's those little details that become clear with open notebook, but are obscured by every other communication mechanism we have. It makes science more efficient." That jump in efficiency, in turn, could have huge payoffs for society, in everything from faster drug development to greater national competitiveness.

The article concentrates on open notebook science, the use of wikis and blogging mostly, but also mentions social bookmarking and peer review experiments. As can be expected, a lot of the usual suspects are interviewed: Jean-Claude Bradley, Bora Zivkovic, Timo Hannay (my interview), Bill Hooker and others.

Overall, I think it's great that SciAm is giving such good press to these new ideas and new ways of doing things. Perhaps it would have been nice if they'd covered social bookmarking or eprint servers a little more. Also, they could have talked more about the possibilities of social networks like Nature Network. On the other hand, I realize that you can only cover so much in a short article and they probably made the right choices about what to talk about. it's hard to argue that given limited space that they could only cover so much.

I plan on using the article as a way of introducing some of these ideas to the faculty and administration here. Who knows what could happen!

First noticed in Corie Lok's Blog.

Update 2008.01.12: Updated wording a bit in one sentence to say what I really meant instead of the exact opposite.


Jean-Claude Bradley said...

Yes, it is hard to be thorough when writing about a large topic like Science 2.0 in an article of this size. But with lots of people blogging about it (and similar articles) someone new to the concept can can briefed pretty quickly I think.

John Dupuis said...

Thanks, Jean-Claude. I agree that it's hard to be comprehensive in a short article, but I can dream!

FWIW, I think they probably hit the most important points. It will be interesting to see what the final version looks like, though.

I'll be seeing you in NC this time next week!

coturnix said...

Perhaps we can get together and write a longer piece on Science 2.0 and publish it somewhere. Just a thought.

John Dupuis said...

And a good thought it is! We should touch base at the conference.

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