Reinventing discovery: the promise of open sciencePosted: December 6, 2011
I’ve been skimming/reading through Michael Nielsen’s (pioneer in quantum computing) new (2012) book Reinventing discovery: the new era of networked science, Princeton University Press. The book chronicles the various open science and open innovation initiatives from the past and present: Torvalds and Linux, Tim Gowers’ polymath project (see his post: is massively collaborative mathematics possible), the failed quantum wiki (qwiki) effort, Galaxy Zoo, collaborative fiction, Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), Open Architecture Network, Foldit, SPIRES, Paul Ginsbarg’s arXiv, the Public Library of Science (PLoS), of course Innocentive, etc, etc.
My quick take on the book – it is a nice review of the existing forms that open innovation and open science are taking. I’ve read or followed most of the above projects over the years so the book doesn’t cover too much new territory from that perspective. The language in the book isn’t too precise –e.g., “network” isn’t very specific (I suppose in this case it simply means internet, broadly, and more general openness). But then again, this isn’t really an academic book (lots of great footnotes though). But the book is a great review of some of the existing efforts in open innovation and open science.
But beyond detailing the many instances of increased openness in science, the book touches more generally on the possibilities of “citizen science” (David Kirsch posted about citizen science on orgtheory.net, see here). I think there are lots of interesting possibilities: funding, tapping into cognitive ‘surplus,’ perhaps gamification, and many other forms of collaboration. And the book leaves off with some important problems for and questions about open science. How do you get the incentives right for openness? Who should be the gatekeepers? What institutions are needed to support openness? Etc.
Here’s the author speaking at Google a few weeks ago: