One of the more fascinating pieces of work at a DOE National Laboratory was the examination of an ancient work by Archimedes on parchment that had been erased, written over, and so, mostly, lost to history. Lost, that is, until the SLAC synchrotron X-ray beam tore into the parchment and was able to let us see and read much of the original Archimedean text. Archimedes would have used a lab notebook, if he had had paper, or a computer and a thumb-drive to record his work if they had been available, but he did not live long enough to invent those things, which he probably could have if given the time. One hopes that before his study was erased, others were able to read it, profit from its insights, and use the knowledge as a springboard to another discovery. That’s one way we make progress.
We often hear that with declining costs in storage, increased bandwidth, and faster processing speeds, the power and potential of the electronic age to spread and communicate science are amazing things to ponder. I guess. But the work can still be lost, no matter how it is recorded. And some material, let’s face it, isn’t worth saving. Between this blog and Archimedes’ method of mechanical theorems, the work that SLAC was looking at, which would you save? What is needed now, as then, is someone to care about preserving the scientific findings that are worth preserving.
That goes for what is called “new media,” as it does for parchments. Multimedia (video, animation, visualization, interactive publishing, image and object recognition) is widely used to record, share, and collaborate in science. Because of the U.S. Department of Energy's central role in science, we are also at the center of technology for collecting and disseminating this new media, as well as the old. Acquiring and disseminating are separate but equally essential (and complicated) elements to accelerating scientific discovery.
On the acquiring side, it's essential that DOE's policy and...Read more...
For several years I've been responsible for organizing OSTI staff to capitalize the benefits of web and mobile web innovations. An important endeavor of mine aspires to help OSTI become a leader in connecting scientists in the second generation of the WorldWideWeb - Web 2.0. Connecting scientists supports our director's vision of Global Science Discovery (More on this vision later.) Web 2.0 has enabled new types of media that are capable of accomplishing his ideals for knowledge diffusion, increasing contact rates between scientists, and accelerating science. After years of grassroots research I assembled OSTI's Web 2.0 Team to seed new Web innovation and exchange Web 2 accomplishments. As we progress in the coming months, I hope to incite my Teammates and others to share more Web 2.0 accomplishments on the OSTIblog.
Outside of science, the Web already accelerates commerce, entertainment, social issues, and politics. In theory, new Web 2 media spaces such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook, Google, Blogger, Wordpress, Flickr, Feedburner, etc. have useful features for attracting and connecting thousands of science work groups. A key factor is that these new sites make services and content available on Web-enabled devices like cellphones, iPods, and eBooks. This combination of hardware and web software can help researcher's core information needs and practices - finding and monitoring science information, directing staff, and circulating information with peers and officials. So, it's not a huge leap to see the possibilities of new media connecting...Read more...