11 November 2008

New Modes of Scholarly Communication: Blogs, Wikis and Web 2.0 - Berlin 6

Time for the first plenary session at Berlin 6 -- New Modes of Scholarly Communication: Blogs, Wikis and Web 2.0 in Academia. This session explores new forms of scholarly communication beyond the paper metaphor (an idea that jtw and I speak on often), with the focus of this being specifically on hypertext publishing.

My notes on this session will be brief, since a lot of this is common knowledge, but important nevertheless.

OK, on to the panelists:
1. Lamber Heller, TIB / UB Hannover

"We're experiencing a radical shift in how we establish authority, significance, and even scholarly validity" - Michael Jensen, New Metrics of Scholarly Authority

Heller's presentation was on the challenging gap between community feedback and academic recognition, specifically in terms of blogs and blog aggregators. He views blog aggregators (public ones, rather than Google Reader which I don't believe is publicly searchable?) as a new communication pattern in and of itself. Many in the research community, Heller says, are encouraging this new form of discourse on top of the existing infrastructure for scholarly communication. Blogging and aggregators will never replace traditional media - digital or paper, but are meant to act as a complement or added layer to pre-existing knowledge.

2. Lilia Efimova, Telematica Instituut, currently finishing her PhD and blogging it as an exercise

"Writing itself is thinking ... "

Efimova began with a brief introduction (she's actually blogging her PhD research currently, hoping that she's granted the title in the coming weeks :) We'll see if blogging her PhD really affected the committee's decision!), and then detailed in general terms the process of growing ideas. First, you sense there is something interesting, start to articulate insights (very fuzzy and difficult to grasp, usually pre-funding, etc.) -> start to connect the dots, pull together disparate knowledge sources, start to conduct experiments, getting the formal setting to do research -> lastly, you work on the publication.

Efimova believes that blogging the research provides a place for ideas that "do not fit" necessarily, allowing one to park the research in a trusted repository as the research is being conducted, analyzed, written up.

This form of research documentation allows for fragmented bits of information to be linked, information readily reused, creating yet another area for networked research. The process is transparent - observable and traceable, can at times increase one's visibility (important for junior researchers), as well as providing baked in mechanisms for attribution and ownership.

3. Lorrie LeJeune, from the OpenWetWare (OWW) project / MIT

"It's about open collaboration, as well as Open Access. Our mission is to be a premier and lasting environment in which biologists and biological engineers can work together in real time to produce, share and improve knowledge."

LeJeune is the managing director of OWW - a web-based knowledge sharing source, currently utilizing wikis to document lab reports, experiments, protocols and other information in the biomedical sciences.

"We want to have an impact on the dissemination of biomedical information."

There's a real incentive to sharing in some disciplines, because you want the visibility. Many scientists fear their work being scooped, but say, if you're on the fringe of a scientific discipline (think "synthetic biology" 3-5 years ago), that visibility may lead to your next article, your next collaboration or even next grant.

This is a project that SC is collaborates with (John's on the Board, as well as the rest of us offering our support as members of the same community.) In many ways, as LeJeune stated, OWW is the embodiment of what this panel is about - and one I continue to marvel at, as a user base of OA and open collaboration in the purest sense.

1 comment:

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