Web 2.0 for Biologists–Are any of the current tools worth using?:
[Via Bench Marks]
[Cross-posted at SpreadingScience]
David Crotty has been leading a discussion regarding the acceptance of Science 2.0 by scientists. Or rather the non-acceptance.
It is ironic to use Web 2.0 approaches to examine why scientists do not use Web 2.0 approaches. But entirely appropriate. Because these technologies will help researchers.
But not because we tell them so. No internet technology ever became used simply because people were told so. They used it because it made it easier to do what they wanted to do.
What scientists can be told is how Web 2.0 will make their life easier. Once they can see how these approaches deal with the glut of data being generated and help create knowledge, they will be ready for some of the more emergent aspects of Science 2.0.
This is a presentation I gave last weekend at the Southwest Regional Society for Developmental Biology Meeting. It’s an updated version of an earlier talk posted here. It’s kind of a 180 degrees turn from the previous talk, in that the first one was delivered to publishers, and this one was delivered to scientists. Here I’ve tried to include the thoughtful comments and helpful suggestions that readers made on the first talk, and have also tried to point out currently useful tools and interesting future directions. I don’t come at this subject from the point of view of a programmer, that’s not my background. I’m approaching it as 1) a publisher, who wants to build these tools into our journals and online products to make them more useful, and 2) as a former research scientist, with a thought toward what tools would have made my life easier when I was at the bench. The same caveat applies as last time–I work for a biology publisher, and am a former biologist. My comments and analysis of the culture here refer to that culture specifically (and I’ll try to avoid using the generic word “scientist” where it’s inappropriate). Different cultures have different needs. Certain fields of science collect types of data that more obviously fit in with Web 2.0 approaches. These approaches may not apply directly to the world of wet-bench biology, but they do serve as valuable pointers and directions worth watching. I want to be clear that I’m not writing Web 2.0 off as useless. What I’m interested in doing is separating the wheat from the chaff. Much of what is currently being done under this umbrella is useless and doomed. But there are some gems already available and despite many likely failures, aspects of those failures are worth recognizing and incorporating into future efforts.
If you read the first talk, sorry for the redundancies, and sorry for re-using some of the same jokes. I’ll work on new ones for the next presentation.