Scientific Researchers and Web 2.0: Social Not Working?

Scientific Researchers and Web 2.0: Social Not Working? was the title of a fun and stimulating event, the second of the British Library’s TalkScience series, with’s Timo Hannay kicking it off with some thoughts [podcast], and a Nature Network forum supporting it with pre- and post-discussion.

It brought together a good mix of Web 2.0 geeks, bloggers and researchers, plus serious scientists and scholars already immersed in, playing at the edges of, or just plain curious about the wonders of Web 2.0. As well as meeting some interesting people, the big messages for me were that:

  • we’re clearly in the early, transitional phase of escaping from the shadow of Gutenberg: research fields are largely ruled by print journal publications, with few formal career incentives to blog, or publish in lower tier, but more innovative, e-journals
  • there are some demonstrable “Web 2.0 approaches add value” application areas emerging, especially around collaborative annotation
  • social networks for disseminating and archiving blog commentary on the peer reviewed literature look like a promising niche, which makes sense to researchers

Practising what we preach, here’s the Dialogue Map showing the ideas and websites discussed, as mapped on the night, in Compendium, a tool that’s been funded by the e-Science/Scoail Science Programme.

Then I uploaded the map into our Web 2.0 Cohere app for mapping Ideas and Arguments, so you can add your own thoughts to the hypertext. We’re investigating this as one vision of semantic, Web 2.0, scholarly discourse (maybe that makes it Science 3.0 discourse?…)

You can see below the root “Idea” of my Dialogue Map, and once you click on this you’ll be taken into Cohere, showing how this expands on the Idea of “Science 2.0”:

In the discussion, I mentioned Cohere in the context of our need for sensemaking tools that allow us to ask questions such as Who disagrees with this paper?. Cohere came from the EPSRC Scholarly Ontologies project that laid the foundations for annotating and interrogating semantic annotations. I also mentioned a forthcoming internet experiment which aimed to bring together technologists working on structured online deliberation and argument mapping tools, with subject matter experts from climate science and policy. This experiment is going to be called ESSENCE: E-Science/Sensemaking/Climate Change

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