Science 2.0 workshop
I spent a couple of days in Nice at the ECTEL Science 2.0 workshop organised by Peter Scott and Erik Duval. I've live-blogged it over in Cloudworks, and below is a video I shot over the course of it, just to give a flavour really:
Erik has blogged some thoughts about it, I'll add a few here:
i) We are only beginning to appreciate what this data might tell us. There were a few demos about visualisations and research on twitter use at conferences (good paper from Martin Ebner and Wolfgang Reinhardt). I think we need to do more of this sort of work, because it will both push us to get more data and also we will explore different levels of interpretation. So there was some work on representing collaboration from different countries, and also on creating networks of researchers through examining citations.
ii) Mendeley is based on the concept of a 'LastFM for research articles'. It looks interesting, but it is more interesting for what it potentially highlights – people will upload articles in exchange for good data, that a good system such as this could disintermediate publishers, and peer review can be post review also.
iii) I wonder if there's not a dilemma with science in particular and some of the web 2.0 stuff: scientists by their (or I should say, our) very nature seek to predict the future. That's what science does – if we have these variables then these outcomes will ensue (or these outcomes are a result of these input variables). But the benefits of many 'web 2.0' ways of working are wrapped up in unpredictability. I don't know which blog posts will be popular, I can share ideas on twitter but I can't predict who will take them up, I can release research data but I won't know what the uses for it will be. Might it be the case then that scientists in particular want predictable benefits and outcomes from engaging in this type of activity?
Your point about unpredictability is really interesting Martin. As a former scientist and wife of an active science researcher, my feeling is that many scientists have been so battered by funding models that work on closed ideas, rewarding the individual not the community that they cannot begin to think about being open and sharing. Alan often cites a classic occasion where we attempted to introduce some of our colleagues to delicious and RSS. One researcher commented with glee – ‘now I’ll know what my competitor is reading!’ – but flat out refused to share his own bookmarks. I think that scientists do want to be shown predictable benefits, but we can’t do that yet – publishing in an open journal with no impact factor doesn’t get you grants (yet). Scientists are much more aware of the risks (loss of data, being scooped) than they are of the benefits.