User:Andrew Perry/Web2.0 For Scientists

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Emerging Tools for Scientific Collaboration Online

These are some early notes for a talk I'd like to give at some stage about new online tools for scientific collaboration and data sharing (originally titled "Web2.0 for Scientists", until feedback from others suggested to avoid the web2.0 label).

Things are rapidly changing ... new web applications and social networks targeted directly or indirectly at scientists seem to be springing up every week. Chances are, by the time you read this it will already be woefully out of date ...

Neil Saunders has presented a great talk along these lines: "What can science networking online do for you ?".

Begin with a survey, show of hands:

Who has heard of ?

Who has used ?

(can change emphasis based on these rough show of hands)

From Wikipedia:

Web 2.0 is a term describing the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies.


Figure: A Tag cloud (constructed by Markus Angermeier) [1[2]] presenting some of the themes of Web 2.0.

Another way of looking at it: Previously (and for many people, currently), the PC and the local network was the platform, and this is where your data lived. It works okay, but it makes it difficult to collaborate with others. Increasingly, the web will become the platform ... where your data can also live "in the cloud", and (global) collaboration becomes much easier. There are many advantages to making this transition. Two key ones:

  1. data sharing between loosely coupled applications
  2. "network effects" that develop when many people with shared interests can collaborate (the so-called "folksonomy").

Commoncraft videos


Wikis in Plain English

Google Docs in Plain English

Twitter in Plain English

Blogs in Plain English

Social bookmarking

Connotea and CiteULike

Science blogs - Why?

Open with blogs in plain english video ... then have a few slides discussing how science blogs can and do work ... eg Peer-reviewed journals [traditional primary sources for science] are still key. Blogs provide the subtext, where discussion is often more detailed, open and frank (more so than letters to the editor). Particularly cite cases where scientific fraud is discussed on blogs, and how it often bears out details that could otherwise be "brushed under the covers" by embarassed journals and authors.

(what type of things do scientists write about on their blogs, what is their role ?)

(highlight some good/bad/ugly examples ... some ScienceBlogs, Neil's, ByteSizeBio, Drugmonkey)

Bringing it all together: RSS / Atom / Feed readers

RSS in Plain English

FriendFeed in Plain English (video doesn't exist)

Google Reader

New Web2.0 savvy journals

Give an Open Access overview. Keep it as simple as possible, it's a whole other presentation in itself.

  1. PLoS
  2. Nature Preceedings (preprints, not peer-reviewed)
  3. Your Institutional repository

Why do these matter ? ... Citations. Look at the story of the PLoS journals ... first impact factors were huge for a brand new journal.Why use your institutional repository ... (it's not a peer-reviewed publication, why would I care) ?

  • For the Idealists ... one important role of scientists is to communicate your findings freely. This is a great way, since Google will find it.
  • For the Pragmatists, Machiavellians ... this is the so-called "Green Route" to open access, which help people find your paper more easily. Chances are, people will initially find your paper via the institutional repository, but then hunt down and cite the peer-reviewed journal version if they like it.

Social and Career networking

  • Facebook -- students use it. Students will become senior scientists. They will probably still be using it then.
  • Nature Network -- one of the better 'social networks' for scientists to date (helped along by the Nature branding, no doubt). Still needs lots of work (but the best contender to become useful at the moment ?)
  • LinkedIn -- seems to be more for biotech and pharma rather than academic positions ? Focus on career development, not specific to scientists.
  • BioMedExperts -- lesser known, not really a social network, but worth a look. Doesn't really encourage any social interaction, but visualizing the connections via co-publication is interesting.
  • etc etc etc

Video: lectures & learning

Great for conference talks you've missed.

Won't replace conferences, since so far realtime interaction is limited and not particularly "natural" for most scientists.

  • Slideshare
  • Bioscreencast
  • JoVE -- now indexed by PubMed/MEDLINE

New Frontiers

Potential to fill some of the gaps missing from presentation of online videos + slides ... the speaker can 'be there' in realtime to field questions and interact.SecondLife -- a global conference space (it's not a video game)-- others are experimenting with presenting data in Secondlife. Nice idea, not quite there yet.

Context: Where are we at, what is working, what is failing ?

Why Web 2.0 is failing in Biology

Science in the YouTube Age (Cameron Neylon):

Links, Resources

academHacK: Tech tools for academics: