In collaboration with the estimable Vivan Siegel, I’m writing a series of op/ed articles on the future of scientific publishing. The first of these was about the challenges of filtering the scientific literature. The second piece, explores the prospect of using “Web 2.0” approaches to accelerate scientific progress. The article starts from the assumption that sharing is a good thing, and considers the ways in which social networking and other types of internet-powered tools might help scientists share more efficiently. We begin with a description of a long-term, somewhat pie-in-the-sky goal before returning to earth to evaluate the current state of the art (link):
This revolution will be digitized:
online tools for radical collaboration
But let us entertain the thought that the ideal size of the collaborative unit might be much larger than the average research group of today, and that we lived in a world in which scientific efforts were organized around this principle. How might evolving information technologies allow science to progress more rapidly? In such a world, we might choose to organize scientific efforts differently: not according to physical proximity in labs or departments, but rather by aptitude, expertise and availability. Rather than thinking of projects as the virtual property of small groups, we would simply broadcast ideas (or data) until they reached the right person(s) to take the next step. …
In other words, what if you could think a thought at the world and have the world think back? What if everyone in the world were in your lab – a ‘hive mind’ of sorts, but composed of countless creative intellects rather than mindless worker ants, and one in which resources, reagents and effort could be shared, along with ideas, in a manner not dictated by institutional and geographical constraints?
There’s another piece in the works, probably about the publication of results that fall below the threshold of a “publishable unit”. Others have written extensively on this subject, and there are a number of solutions to this problem out in the wild, so I’m currently absorbing all of that information and determining whether I have original thoughts on the subject.
Patil, C., & Siegel, V. (2009). This revolution will be digitized: online tools for radical collaboration Disease Models and Mechanisms, 2 (5-6), 201-205 DOI: 10.1242/dmm.003285