Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Science 2.0

 
You may have heard of Science 2.0. It's the latest "revolution" in science. You can read a nice summary from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute [Science 2.0 You Say You Want a Revolution?].


Personally, I think blogging is going the become part of the culture in the same way that newsgroups did in the past except that more people are going to read the blogs. I don't think it's going to be a revolution. I don't think the majority of scientists and students are going to become regular readers of blogs. The blogosphere culture is not for everyone. Many of my colleagues are completely turned off. Blogging is going to be just one more way of communicating science and sharing ideas.

I'm skeptical of OpenWetWare (OWW) and other software that allows you to put all your notes and protocols on the web. Right now, most labs don't make shared electronic versions of protocols and notes even though we've been able to do that for 25 years. I don't see why that's going to change. My notebooks have lots of comments that I've scribbled in the margins (F**k - forgot to add magnesium!). I don't know why I'd want to share that with everyone on the planet.

I've done lots of "secret" experiments in my lifetime just to check out some crazy idea. So have the graduate students and post-docs in my lab. Does this sort of thing never go on in the labs that have adopted open access lab books? That doesn't sound like any kind of lab that I'd like to be in. Too much control for my liking. (According to the article it's "where the cool people are." I don't think so.)

Open-Access Journals are here to stay and will only increase in popularity.


[Hat Tip: A Blog Around the Clock]

8 comments :

  1. My notebooks have lots of comments that I've scribbled in the margins (F**k - forgot to add magnesium!). I don't know why I'd want to share that with everyone on the planet.

    Heh, two possibilities I can think of:

    1 - That marginal comment was pretty entertaining; and

    2 - Think if we had been able to read Fleming's lab notebooks: "F**k - mold in the bacteria cultures!"

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  2. I also think it would be entertaining to read some of those 'crazy ideas'. I'm sure many of the past greats did things they never thought would lead anywhere and yet led to great discoveries.

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  3. Do you really write "Fuck" like that, even in the privacy of your notebook? Seems like you already had an eye to posterity!

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  4. Has anyone ever looked seriously at "secret" experiments, and how much they contribute? I also did many of these, mostly as a postdoc, where my mentor loudly vetoed ideas he thought ridiculous. Several of these went on to be publications.

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  5. That doesn't sound like any kind of lab that I'd like to be in. Too much control for my liking.

    Funny :)

    But seriously, now that you have a concrete example of some of the negative issues which come from too much openness, maybe it would be a good time to reconsider the issue of publishing student's grades in order to promote full openness. What's good for the goose & all.

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  6. Tyro says,

    But seriously, now that you have a concrete example of some of the negative issues which come from too much openness, maybe it would be a good time to reconsider the issue of publishing student's grades in order to promote full openness. What's good for the goose & all.

    Don't be silly.

    I'm not telling students that they have to publish all their personal notes on the web.

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  7. Larry,

    No of course the analogy isn't perfect. I just meant to illustrate that even in an academic environment which values openness there are places where privacy is valuable. You say that you've done things to check out some crazy ideas which you wouldn't want revealed to the world. When we tackle things which are genuinely new to us it's easier to take the risk if the failure is private rather than public. You found a good example of this in your own life, I thought you could better empathize with students.

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  8. I like the idea of publishing scientist notebooks because it helps make them take responsibility for their activities at university.

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