Friday, February 26, 2010

How do I stop the scientists talking?

I'm at the LikeMinds conference here in Exeter today talking about social media. I'm not amoung my people, the room is mostly filled with marketing and public relations types. While I'm sure I'm not the only techie here, I may be the only professional scientist...

But what I didn't expect to here this morning was a question from the audience during the social strategies panel with John Bell, Maz Nadjm, Charlie Osmond and Gemma Went, " can I stop my scientists talking online?"
@aallan "...stop scientists talking"?! Why do they want to do that? Do they worry the Internet might be full?
  @astronomyblog via web in reply to @aallan
The issue seems to be that those naughty scientists are talking about restricted intellectual property between themselves without proper oversight from management types. Oh dear, we might come up with ideas and solve problems without the right paperwork getting done..?

Have they heard of the printing press, and peer-reviewed journals? Science, rather than the scientists themselves, have a problem with restricting communication. Science can't happen without communication. You only have to look at the how science was done before peer-review journals became prevalent, when theories were published first as anagrams, to realise how the velocity-of-change of technological and scientific progress depends crucially on open communications.

We talked about this at the .Astronomy meeting in Leiden at the tail end of last year, but crucially we weren't talking about stopping scientists talking. We were talking about how to make it easier, to make it open...

Michael Nielsen - Reinventing Discovery

...Michael Neilson's talk was about the future of science and how to build a collective future for all of us, and combat the silo mentality that this question of how to "...stop scientists talking" exemplifies.

You have to wonder if this person was worried about today's social media, what she'll think of open science, open data access, and .Astronomy's project #zombie...