What is e-science?
(this post was mostly written a while ago but is just being finished on 8/29/08)
There's an explosion of meetings and conferences and conference sessions on e-science, and in particular, how computer and information scientists and information professionals can/should/(do?) support e-science.
Ok, in that case, what is e-science? Carol H pointed out to me in e-mail that many of the current wave of librarian sessions seem to only be covering big science. Massive efforts using cloud computing to handle exabytes of data coming from telescopes and other big science instruments.
Also h/t Carol H, Carole Palmer quotes
Data from Big Science is … easier to handle, understand and archive.
Small Science is horribly heterogeneous and far more vast. In time Small Science will generate 2-3 times more data than Big Science. (‘Lost in a Sea of Science Data’ S.Carlson, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 23/06/2006.)
This is small-er science, but it's still data curation.
At the SLA session. librarians from the Biodiversity Heritage Library talked about their work. Other roles of librarians in e-science include as taxonomists, catalogers, and as digitization experts (maybe this is curation, too?)
I don't think that's all there is. I think that e-science is also leveraging the power of the web for collaboration and information sharing using both social software and more traditional databases.
So I'm asking and proposing that e-science is
- grid computing - using distributed computing power to do new computational methods in other areas of science (not in CS but in Astro, in bio, etc.)
- data curation - using computing power and information science to store, discribe, and provide access to scientific information for reuse while taking security and policy issues into account
- supporting scientists work using social computing technologies (SCTs) to support collaboration around data and equipment (as in collaboratories) as well as collaboration to find new research partners and to discuss science
- maybe some sort of support for benchtop computational methods or support for workflow or electronic lab notebooks?
What do you think? Is it just one of these or all or some subset?
Update: John weighed in
. And there's a friendfeed string
(with a couple of real scientists!).