Just to remind you: The conference is about the three sides in the Information Triangle. It schematically depicts that information technology (IT) has given a new dimension to various aspects of scientific research and its interaction with the public. The three sides of the triangle are:
1. Science and Society
That includes topics like impact of open access on science literacy, blogging, and science journalism, as well as generally the embedding of scientific research into the society we live in - and the backreaction of the public opinion and sociological values on the scientific community.
- Harry Collins' talk for example falls into this category. He will address the question of whether the developments in electronic media blur the boundary between acquiring specialist knowledge by social interaction with the community, and acquiring it through reading (read full abstract).
- Steve Fuller will join us per video on Wednesday, talking about 'metascientific' instruments outside academia that judge on research, like the Citation Index and Wikipedia (I'd have put PageRank on the list!). He is addressing the question whether these interfere with research by steering science policy, and what to do about this influence. (Read full abstract).
- David Kaiser will talk about booms and busts in the history of science, how they took hold, what consequences have they had on the world of ideas, and what impacts they've had on the direction of scientific research. (Read full abstract.)
- Beth Noveck speaks about science in politic decision-making. How the government today gathers, analyzes and distributes scientific expertise opens the door to "science bending" - political abuse and manipulation of scientific research results. She argues that technology is changing the nature of expertise in public decision-making and might afford new opportunities for the scientific community to inform policy-making (read full abstract). Beth will later lead a "Design Exercise" in such Science Policy Making.
- Lee Smolin will talk about ethical principles in the scientific community, and how the increased connectivity among scientists opens up new opportunities and also new challenges for the thriving of scientific communities. (Read full abstract).
We will have a discussion on Wednesday evening about these topics, which will be moderated by Steve Weinstein. Steve is a Professor for philosophy at the University of Waterloo with a cross-appointment to the Physics department, and a familiar face here at PI. He's an interesting guy in many regards and I'm happy he agreed on joining our meeting.
2. Science and IT
The way that changes in information management and community interactions affect the way we do research. That includes unreasonable enthusiasm about data-crunching (for example) as well as social networking, and analysis of community structures.
There are a lot of talks about this topic! Paul Ginsparg will talk about the next-generation implications of open access (read abstract), Cameron Neylon will tell us how he learned to stop worrying and love his blog (read abstract), Michael Nielsen talks about cultural openness and its connection to online innovation in science (see e.g. his recent post on The Future of Science, and my related post on Openness in Science), Chad Orzel from Uncertain Principles talks about weblogs and public outreach (read abstract), Jacques Distler will talk about scientific communication in a new century (read abstract), Greg Wilson aks if the web can make scientists brush their teeth (read abstract), and John Willinsky will review the public impact of developments in open access to research on education, professional practice, and public policy (read abstract).
We will have two discussions about these topics: "Science gets closer to the public" on Monday, which will be moderated by Eva Amsen from Easternblot, and "The Future of Scientific Collaboration" on Tuesday, moderated by John Dupuis from Confessions of a Science Librarian.
I am also very happy that Katy Börner will be at our conference and give a talk about how to map research areas in science, and how to keep track of scientific trends. Read abstract, or check the website. (We were talking about her bringing some of the posters to display in the lobby, but due to administrational hazard I currently don't know whether this will work out.)
3. IT and Society
The way it looks right now, there's only one talk that really falls into this category, that is Barry Wellmann's. His abstract however is long enough to make for 5 talks. I guess he'll pretty much cover every aspect of how IT developments affect our social networks.
I am also very curious about Alex Pang's evening session on Monday. He will lead an exercise to map major trends in the natural and social sciences, science policy and politics, public engagement with science (read abstract).
There were three other topics that I had in mind for the conference that would have fallen into this category: data storage (resilience of, see my post Lost in Information), information overflow (see also), and science education. It is mostly a coincidence that among the final participants nobody will talk about these aspects.
4. In Between
There are some talks that fall in between these areas, such as Andrew Odlyzko's who will speak about the evolution of scholarly communication (read abstract - somewhere between 1 and 3 I guess), and my own talk which will mostly be a motivation and an introduction of the coming talks since many of the participants do not know each other (in fact, this post will make a good draft for the talk.)
We will also have a fourth discussion on Thursday after the conference dinner about "Scientific Utopia - Alternative Forms of Scientific Research" that I expect to be of interest also for PI residents...
TAGS: SCIENCE 21