Discussing Web 2.0

boat by notsogoodphotography
Are scientists missing the boat?;.:
[Via Bench Marks]

….or has that boat already sailed?

I’ve read many a blog posting or magazine article declaring that scientists are behind the curve, and we biologists have been slow to pick up the new online tools that are available. I’ve repeatedly asked for examples of other professions that are ahead of the curve that we can use as models (are there social networks of bakers sharing recipes and discussing ovens?), but haven’t seen much offered in response. I tend to think that it’s not a question of scientists being slow, it’s that the tools being offered aren’t very appealing. Note how quickly scientists moved from paper journals to online versions, which only took as long as it did because of the slow progress on the part of journal publishers getting their articles up on the web. The advantages of online journals were obvious, and in comparison, the advantages of joining “Myspace for scientists” are less evident.

Are social networks )”Meet collaborators! Discuss papers!”) ever going to see heavy use from the biology community? Or are we starting to see that they’ve run their course in general, and scientists were prescient in not wasting their time?

There are too many advantages that arise from using many of these Web 2.0 tools (i.e. the ability to leverage human social networks in order to examine large datasets). However, the race will not be to have 5000 friends, as often seen out in the wild.

In a closed environment, such as a corporation, there are some very good uses for wikis, blogs, etc. They can not only help workflow tremendously but also can allow new metrics to be used in order to track just who contributed what to a project.

Moving tacit information from insides someone’s head outside into an explicit database will have important consequences for many organizations.

I don’t think the next generation will shun these tools. They will just have a better idea of how to interact with them more usefully, with a focus that can really help their workflow.

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