Publishing Science on the Web by John Wilbanks of the Common Knowledge Blog who participates in the discussion concerning the future of scientific dissemination in the digital age:
. . . science is already a wiki if you look at it a certain way. It’s just a really, really inefficient one – the incremental edits are made in papers instead of wikispace, . . . And the papers are written in a highly specialized form of text that demonstrates the expertise of the writer in the relevant domain, but can form a language barrier to scientists outside the domain. . . . How can we get to enough technical standards so that this kind of science can be harvested, aggregated, and mashed up by people and machines into a higher level of discipline traversal? . . . But the language barrier among scientists is preserved – indeed, made worse – by the lack of knowledge interoperability at the machine level. It’s the Tower of Babel made digital.
Two really important issues in scientific communication and dissemination that are critical for technological progress and for evidence-based practice. One is the organization of scientific findings scattered through various journals instead of collaborative consolidated instruments like wikis. Time is the real information problem today and some form of wiki is the answer. The second issue is knowledge interoperability. Precise language is important in scientific communication, but I still get the feeling that current writing styles and vocabularies in many disciplines, when you look at function, have more to do with politics than communication.
Thanks to George Siemens for the point
Lots of information recently on the topic of collective intelligence and distributed decision making (web 2.0, decision 2.0, project management 2.0 etc. . .).
George Siemen’s blog looks at the report Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science. He notes; “The data is current provided as images. It would be useful to navigate the resulting “map of science” in an interactive application”. When this comes-to-pass, it would really represent a powerful web 2.0 app and a data tool for ideas.
The Many Worlds Blog discusses Eric Bonabeau’s Sloan management review article on Decision Making 2.0. (1-9-2009) They note 2 concluding suggestions by Bonabeau
“First, collective intelligence tends to be most effective in correcting individual biases in the overall task area of (idea) generation” and
‘Second, because most applications lack a strong feedback loop between generation and evaluation, “companies should consider deploying such feedback loops with greater frequency because the iterative process taps more fully into the power of a collective.”’
This could really be realized if there were two more developments like clickstream data.
- If disciplinary research agendas would become more self-organized by being more connected to the collective 2.0 world, because research is just such a feedback loop that Bonabeau is calling for, and
- We had a better aggregator for research results. There is too much research and knowledge being generated to use, at least in a way that taps into collective intelligence. This would make the leap from idea generation 2.0 to evaluation 2.0.
Finally Andrew Filev in the Project Management 2.0 blog (referencing Seth Godin) says that collective intelligence still needs leadership (as in a leader of the project tribe). It seems like this is a re-introduction of bias back into the system, but maybe some bias can be productive for getting things done. I’m not sure.