For those of us who use computers and the Internet in our scientific work, a revolution is occurring literally before our eyes. Often termed Science 2.0, it is lauded by friends as a set of diverse activities rapidly coalescing into an emerging open science movement, and condemned by foes as creating a situation where original work will be lost to data-pirates and others, destroying the marketplace for intellectual property and leading to knowledge anarchy which can no longer financially support the very projects it seeks to further. For those of us in the knowledge business, it is probably not necessary to worry. If human history is any indication (and what does it not indicate?), endeavors to catch the universe in an organizational net live long beyond their shelf life. Just look at religion and philosophy.
In the burgeoning revolution, one of the best known sites is the eponymous Science 2.0. This could be merely another space for blogophiles – many of whom have a professional tie to what they write about – to disseminate their views and pad their resumes.
But I think something different, and potentially more important is going on. Sites of this ilk act as filters in the information deluge. The economies created are reputation based, and so far, reputations are built on a refined taste for the interesting, the new, but also the honest knowledge that is out there, amid the 50,000,000 science papers published in the last 350 years, give or take several million.
Will bespoke Searchbots someday soon scan the world’s information output looking for just what we want them to for our very own research interests? (Help us out here, NSA.) That seems likely, a case of fire fighting fire. In the meantime, sites like Science 2.0 can cull the amazing from the unnecessary and give us cybermaps to the most fertile research as it is occurring.