A web without science …
September 4th, 2007 by Kaitlin Thaney
James Boyle‘s latest column in The Financial Times – “The irony of a web without science” – examines how the lessons learned from the world wide web can and should be applied to the sciences. From research funding to commercial publishing, Boyle posits that the capabilities made available through the advent of the Web and its design are not adequately being applied to scientific research.
“The greatest irony, though, is this. The world wide web was designed in a scientific laboratory to facilitate access to scientific knowledge. In every other area of life – commerce, social networking, pornography – it has been a smashing success. But in the world of science itself? With the virtues of an open web all around us, we have proceeded to build an endless set of walled gardens, something that looks a lot like Compuserv or Minitel and very little like a world wide web for science.”
The article notes a key element of Science Commons philosophy – the almost-mythical “e-research” world, where collaboration is the norm and we design our systems for the network. Meaningful e-research is going to require a fundamental redefinition of infrastructure. Infrastructure is more than just ethernet and fiberoptic cable. Content is part of the infrastructure, too, and likely the underlying ICT infrastructure content needs to be open by default and governed by open, standard protocols. We won’t get to the e-research future any other way.
Please see the Neurocommons pages for a sense of what an e-research project looks like. If only we had as much access to the literature online as we do to digital data …