This week I was involved in a discussion about the future of science, we used a blog post by Michael Nielsen as a basis for our discussions.  Here are some of the major points that he raises:

  • Scientific publishing has essentially remained the same since the 17th century
  • Open source publishing should be a requirement: publicly paid for science should be available to the public for free (this is an issue that has been raised before on this blog)
  • The uptake of open source publishing and open comment systems has been slow
  • The culture of science needs to change in this respect
  • The current model only rewards efforts towards more publications in the top journals, thus it is difficult to break the status quo
  • Scientists have been reluctant to contribute to things like Wikipedia, open thread comments, blogs etc essentially because they don’t get any credit or recognition for it
  • Science has been very slow to take up recent advances in social networking capabilities
  • A revolution in scientific networking and collaboration is possible
  • Successes include the polymath project
  • Combined collaborator effort is very powerful, an interesting example is the Kasparov vs the world chess match
  • There is enormous room for improved efficiency in how science is done
  • Sharing data and model code should be required – a move towards extreme openness is advocated
  • A role model is the development of open source software such as like Linux

Here is a TED talk where he describes some of his ideas:

For those interested further Michael Nielsen has written a recent book on the subject, entitled Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science.