Science 3.0 drives Web Pragmatics

e-Science has to date focused on formalizing and opening up aspects of scientific practice such as data sharing, open access publishing, and workflows. As is evidenced by the huge debates that surround each of these challenges, it’s not just about the technical challenges: the social weaves around all those bits.

But now let’s think about what that data, experimental protocols, and publications are ultimately all about: the construction, and contesting, of knowledge level claims. Claims to have a novel contribution to the research literature. If it’s complex to model and share databases and protocols in ways that will move science forward, how much more complex to model and share claims, which up until now, remain embedded in Gutenberg’s legacy, the printed page?

This is, however, the challenge that some of us are wrestling with: complementing the much loved, very powerful (it’s embedded in the scientific career structure), and not-about-disappear-anytime-soon prose article/literature, with an internet-native representation of scientific discourse. It’s tough, because we’re moving beyond metadata and semantics that everyone can agree on (author, date, file format, journal), to contested meaning about the significance of observations. We’re moving from semantics to pragmatics, mirrored by the interest in the possible move from the Semantic to the Pragmatic Web (e.g. manifesto / papers / talks / portal).

So, how’s it going? In October in Washington DC, there was a packed out Semantic Web Applications in Scientific Discourse workshop at the International Semantic Web Conference, at which the KMi team co-authored two papers:

Hypotheses, evidence and relationships: The HypER approach for representing scientific knowledge claims.

A short survey of discourse representation models.

Then, just before Christmas at the IEEE e-Science Conference, another gathering kept the momentum going with Web Semantics in Action: Web 3.0 in e-Science.

These events are being energised through the group that convened May’s HyPER Workshop that I reported on previously, who represent an exciting convergence in disciplines and technology for prototyping the socio-semantic infrastructure that in our wilder moments we might dub Science 3.0.

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