Science Online '09: Saturday PM
Ok, here's the weird part. I distinctly remember being at two different sessions that are on the schedule for the same time slot. Huh? So there might be some time travel involved here or maybe I'm imagining something...
Web and the History of Science – moderated by GG, Brian Switek and Scicurious
very cool session - but there were some deeper issues here that the audience did press that were not totally addressed. There's the myth of science - really probably mostly post-WW I - that paints this picture of science as clean and linear. Many popularizations reinforce this with 20-20 hindsight. Most popularizations also only hit the "cool" and the weird (there's a neat Fahnestock article on this - she's at UMCP, but I've never met her). Some of the bloggers go more deep and talk about controversies and the complexities of good scientists working hard whose science was later found to be faulty (or to not adequately describe and predict once better instruments became available). Seems like some bloggers just go: ha-ha look at those crazy old guys! One of the moderators was unable or unwilling to go deeper and that sort of set the tone, unfortunately. If/when this session is done again - bring in someone from rhetoric who looks at the language of popularizations or doing science history to ask tougher questions of the bloggers who do posts on this.
Social networking for scientists – moderated by Cameron Neylon and Deepak Singh
(how I could have attended this when it was at the same time as the above? beats me). Interestingly, these scientists came up with Rogers' innovation adoption decision process for communication technologies :) This was a very worthwhile and useful session, though. Is there value for having separate science networks, or should scientists just use the general purpose ones? Seems like if the network is built around *things*, and these things need special treatment, then science or scholarly networks might be in order. One example is myExperiment - this is built around sharing of workflow pieces - you can't do that well on facebook because you need special metadata, searching, and attribution. Likewise with citeulike or connotea - they are better for scholarly articles than delicious because they understand what metadata is required to describe scholarly work. Otherwise, sites that are just like linkedin, but have a smaller user base really don't offer anything over the general space, and might offer less if they can't get to critical mass.
Anonymity, Pseudonymity – building reputation online — moderated by PalMD and Abel Pharmboy
This is a perennial favorite. I think people who follow blogs at all get this: that you get authority and trust over the course of the blog through your posts. That your pseudonym becomes your brand and is meaningful and trustworthy based on your history of posts. This might be better than relying on your institution or journal IF for authority (IF, ha!). People who don't know blogs, and don't read them, really don't seem to get this. And there are legitimate reasons to not use your real name, even if people know it anyway. Also assume that you can be found out, no matter how hard you try to stay anon.