The next step in scientific collaboration

Today I'm writing of something that may be of a more general interest, so I'm doing it in English, with the hope that It would save me work later in explaining this to others.

Science can confuse superficial thinkers: while Karl Marx, for example, claimed in The Capital that nothing can be both an individual activity and at the same time a social one, the natural science is exactly that. Research is most often done individually, with collaboration taking the form of division of labour among groups; but scientists crucially depend on the social environment. Without the dissemination of new knowledge, the learning of new methods, and the attention to the work done by others, a scientist would be left to wallow in irrelevance. Worse, he might waste his time repeating work that has already been done.

The importance of the social side of science has driven development of social tools for science, alongside with the development of technical aids to research. The first such tool was the post, his majesty's royal mail carriage, through which individual scientists shared their recent findings with like-minded naturalists. With the growth of scientific traffic in the mail, groups such as the Royal Society and others began collecting articles of interest and publishing them, using the already-old technique of printing, to a wider audience. Thus was born the scientific journal.

In the passing decades the journal has been improved and perfected, and has even made the move to the series of tubes passably well (although much room for improvement exists). Then came other tools of collaboration: the train, the automobile, the airplane, the phone, the email – all of which help scientists keep in touch, be aware of the focal points, trends and open questions in their field, and learn of new technologies or knowledge that comes about.

With all this panoply of collaboration tools, one would be excused for thinking that duplication of work and ignorance of tools of the trade are a thing of the past; yet it is not. Science is undergoing a transformation in the computer age, which has left many scientists out of touch and badly equipped. להמשיך לקרוא

מודעות פרסומת