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Posts Tagged ‘beyondOA

Science is already a wiki, just a really inefficient one

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In another excellent post, Publishing science on the web, John Wilbanks reacts to discussions he had with British Library staff and leaders, who told him that:

Publishers frequently claim four functions: registration (when was an idea stated?), certification (is the idea original, has it been “proved” to satisfactory peer review?), dissemination (delivery), and preservation of the record. The journal thus provides for both the claiming of ideas by scientists and for the “memory” of the sciences.

He reponds by saying that the Web already does a lot of this, outside of journals and existing scientific and publishing mechanisms: “Wikis and blogs provide almost costless registration and dissemination of new scientific communication.” However, resistance to integration of the Web into science is strong. Referring to science as an inefficient wiki, he states that, in the current model of scientific production “the incremental edits are made in papers instead of wikispace, and significant effort is expended to recapitulate the existing knowledge in a paper in order to support the one-to-three new assertions made in any one paper”. Another major problem he underlines, one that i find hugely problematic in my own work, is that each disciplines has its own highly specialist language through which it operates. This is a problem for creating scientific mashups:

Right now the problem is we still think about cross disciplinarity as a function of people choosing to work together. But the internet and the Web give us a different model. What’s more cross disciplinary than Google?

Although we use Google daily in our research, and it leads us across scientific fields, the obstacles are still¬† both the language barrier between fields and “lack of knowledge interoperability at the machine level”.


Written by KontraMraku

6 August 2009 at 12:27

Posted in Quick Research

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OA is the beginning, not the end game, science needs rewiring

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John Wilbank in his recent blog post Integrate, Annotate, Federate makes some key points which i entirely share and work on. That is, Open Access is only the beginning. The most important work, on rewiring sciences, is about to start happening. And, like Wilbanks suggests, we have to loudly ask for it, work on it. It’s not going to happen “naturally”, we have to make it happen. Citations, as the only way of integrating scientific works, are not any more the only possible method, that has to change. Here’s his description of one of those principles:

Annotation is the second new essential function. The old method of annotation is through either writing a new paper that validates, invalidates, extends, or otherwise affects the assertions made in an old paper. Or if something is really wrong, there might be a letter to the editor or a retraction. In a wiki world, this is fundamentally insane. The paper is a snapshot of years of incremental knowledge progress. We have much better technology to use than dead trees.

Other than publishers providing annotation, Wilbanks suggests we need to move on and: “create an open platform that actually tracks the kind of annotation-relationships that the web enables”. Extending bloggers’ use of trackback, we should extend those protocols to connect articles, wiki pages, database entries …¬† which would make explicit, visible and trackable already existing links. A logical move would be to either implement pingback protocol in major software applications that are key for the other types of material. Or, if required to achieve that, to extend the protocol to support it.

Written by KontraMraku

6 August 2009 at 12:07

Posted in Quick Research

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