March 5, 2008

Science 2.0

Filed under: web of science — Duncan Hull @ 5:43 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve often wondered how all the ridiculous fluffy Web 2.0 marketing hype (see Tim O’Reilly’s principles of Web 2.0) maps into the world of Science. In a talk yesterday, Dave DeRoure argued there is a massive gap between scientists and infrastructure on the Web of Science, most people would agree with this. He points out that there is nothing in the middle to bridge between the two disparate worlds of people and technology. He also claims that Web 2.0 can bridge the gap, and also explains how Web 2.0 “design patterns” maps onto Science. You can see the original slides for yourself, here is my summary.

Web 2.0 “Design Pattern” / mantra / business speak e-Science equivalent
The Long Tail: “The Future of Business is Selling Less of More”, allegedly Small laboratories make up the bulk of the Web of Science, so lots of e-Science is about everyday researchers doing everyday research, not just about the specialist few doing “heroic” science involving big “blockbuster” ideas and “heroic” infrastructure (e.g. High Performance Computing).
Data is the Next Intel Inside Applications are increasingly data-driven. Many scientists have a data-centric perspective because they are often deluged with data
Users Add Value Involve customer both implicitly and explicitly in adding value to your application. Collaborative and participatory, myExperiment.org, OpenWetWare.org etc
Network Effects by Default Only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application. Therefore: Set inclusive defaults. Benefitting from the scale of digital science activity, many different areas of science are capturing more data electronically.
Some Rights Reserved. Intellectual property protection limits re-use and prevents experimentation. Design for “hackability” and “remixability.” Science is increasingly open: Open-access publishing (PubMedCentral, BioMedCentral, Public Library of Science (PLoS.org) (see Open Access: Taking FULL advantage of the content) etc) open-source software, open data on blogs and wikis etc
The Perpetual Beta Don’t package up new features into monolithic releases. Better not Perfect, The technologies scientists are using are not perfect, just better. Or as they say in the Unix world, Release early, release often. Monolith megalomania is doomed to fail, see the Seven Deadly Sins of Bioinformatics
Cooperate, Don’t Control Web 2.0 applications are built of a network of lightweight, loosely coupled and co-operating services. Offer web services interfaces and content syndication, Empowering scientists, by giving them great tools, rather than forcing people to use inappropriate ones. The success stories come from the researchers who are fluent in use of new tools, mashups, smashups etc
Software Above the Level of a Single Device The PC is no longer the only access device for internet applications, and applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are connected. Therefore: Design your application from the get-go to integrate services across handheld devices, PCs, and internet servers. About pervasive computing. e-Science is about the intersection of the digital and physical worlds, Sensor networks, Mobile handheld devices

So, take a little Web 2.0, add some People 2.0, throw in some lashings of your favourite Science and you’ve got Science 2.0. See also Science -2.0, Science 2.0?, Science Geek Girl (version 2.0), Why Web 2.0 is failing in Biology and Papers 2.0 for where and why Science 2.0 might fail.


  1. Philip E. Bourne, J. Lynn Fink and Mark Gerstein [2008] Open Access: Taking Full Advantage of the Content PLoS Computational Biology 4(3): e1000037. pubmed.gov/18369428, DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000037
  2. Picture of e-Science hero Jim Gray from Esther Dyson

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  2. Also check out http://openwetware.org/wiki/Science_2.0

    Comment by Reshma — March 6, 2008 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  3. Hi Reshma, thanks for the link, I’ve put it in the original post. It’s pretty high up the list of google results http://www.google.com/search?q=science+2.0

    Comment by Duncan — March 10, 2008 @ 9:37 am | Reply

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    Comment by Christopher Dyer — April 22, 2009 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

  7. I agree, such cool applications for research can’t be unuseful!

    Comment by Arsen — May 23, 2009 @ 10:38 am | Reply

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