This first day has been going very well (except for the need to re-re-revise the schedule). Three people already asked me whether this would become an annual event! I am certainly in favor in it. I think the management of information - and scientific information specifically - will become an increasingly important topic, for the internal organization of sciences as well as for its embedding into the society we are part of. It is a topic that draws on input from the natural sciences, the social sciences as well as the computer science, and is as such an interdisciplinary endeavor that needs a forum to focus insights and put them into good use.
While organizing this meeting, I've been wondering whether it will work out combining people from the social sciences with the natural sciences, but so far it makes for a very inspiring mix. We will see how it goes the rest of the week. Wednesday is 'social science' day, as you can see if you look at the schedule. Katy Börner's poster exhibition arrived well and is displayed in the atrium. She will talk about the visualization of community structures and the Maps of Science tomorrow afternoon.
“Science is as old as mankind. We observe nature, we try to understand its working, both to make our lives more pleasant and to find our place in this universe – both, for the sake of application, and because we want to understand who we are, what we are made of and where we come from.
The most important difference between human beings and other species is our ability to pass on knowledge – over increasingly long distances in space and in time. And during our evolution, this allowed scientific research to grow to an organized endeavor, managing an increasing body of knowledge.
Today, science is a community enterprise. It provides us with insights that allow us to shape our future, and to drive progress.
I went into science because I wanted to contribute part, if only a small part, to this body of knowledge. And recently I’ve become interested in the management of that knowledge itself.”
Those were my opening words. The recording is already online at PIRSA, and my slides are here (it's a 5 MB powerpoint presentation).
Chad Orzel from Uncertain Principles then continued with a very well done talk later this morning (recording here) in which he stressed the importance of scientific research to be communicated in a more accessible way. I particularly liked his points "What to do" (around min 31)- I always like concrete suggestions for improvement.
In the afternoon we had Jacques Distler who explained the advantages of MathML, and the usefulness of blogs and wikis which has certainly been an interesting talk for many people in the audience - though I admit it doesn't really fall into my own area of interest. If you want to know more, check the recording. The last talk today was by John Willinsky, who impressed everybody by talking without any powerpoint slides whatsover (recording here). His talk was a plea for open access, summarizing with many examples the positive effects that opening up access to scientific publications has already had.
Later in the afternoon we had a panel discussion with Chad, John, and Cameron, lead by Eva Amsen. Eva did a great job, and we covered various issues of science getting closer to the public: the role of blogs, problems with science education, open access textbooks, free availability of data, and a lot more. I encourage you to look at the FriendFeed where Michael created a room for the conference. I myself am new at FriendFeed but it is really simple to use, and provides you with a good sense of what is going on.
In the evening then we had Alex Pang from the Institute for the Future doing a roadmap of the future of science. We were all supposed to write on post-its what we think will become important in the future, which was then arranged on a black board. It will be up there for the next couple of days, and since it is in the PI bistro, it is likely that some PI residents will contribute to it. I will make sure that I take a picture and upload it. Many of the points were very interesting.
TAGS: SCIENCE 21