Last week's conference has been a tremendously interesting meeting that gave me a lot to think about. I am simply unable to briefly summarize it, especially since I'm already packing bags to head off for another workshop - oh, excuse me, it's called a "Symposium" not a workshop. So instead, I just want to tell you about yesterday's summary discussion, moderated by Michael Nielsen.
Michael picked three people and asked them to answer the following two questions:
1) What was the most striking thing you learned at this conference?
2) Will what you heard here make you change something in your professional life?
The people he selected were Chad Orzel, David Kaiser, and Garrett Lisi, who have quite a different background and lifestyle.
Chad said he was intrigued by John Willinsky's talk and by learning about the Public Knowledge Project. Chad's main concern is making scientific work more accessible, for the broader community as well as to the public, and this project has a lot potential in this regard. As to the second question, he found it very interesting to learn about the benefits of having an open lab notebook from Cameron Neylon's talk, and what other tools are out there. He said he had never thought of the open science movement as interesting but it seems worth looking into. It is attractive, so he said, not in a philosophical but in a hands-on way, and he might look into that closer.
David said that he came to this meeting thinking there is an absolute limit to how much of real interaction can ever be substituted by virtual communication channels, and that there is “some residual unanalyzable something” which could never be replaced. He was surprised to learn how much human interaction and collaboration meanwhile can take place online, and is wondering whether virtual interaction we will maybe asymptotically approach the real one. Regarding the second question he said he doesn't have a blog, and never reads blogs because he hasn't been convinced of the value in that before. But possibly he might reconsider...
Garrett explained he was thrilled to learn of Mendeley from Victor Henning's talk, and generally by the combination of people at the meeting, people who normally wouldn't interact. He further said that he used to think of journals as “dinosaurs that would eventually die out,” but Timo Hannay's talk shed a different light on the role of journals. If you haven't looked at Timo's talk, it is very recommendable and entertaining. Timo told us about the various ways in which Nature facilitate communication of science, both in and outside the community - a mission far beyond printing a magazine. Garrett further said Lee's talk gave him something to ponder, since he hadn't thought before of the social aspects of the scientific endeavor and the importance of the opinion building in the community.
As to me, I absolutely loved Eric Weinstein's talk and was surprised to learn how tall Chad is! I further heard so much about the merits of wikis that I've created one. Now I only have to convince my collaborators to also use it...
TAGS: SCIENCE 21