Scientific Discovery Games and the organization of science in our societies

By Thursday, March 22, 2012 0 No tags Permalink 0

It would be possible to classify societies based on how they organize science. I would posit that the more advanced a society becomes, the better it becomes at utilizing the entire social organization in discovering new truths and doing science. A society in which there is no citizen science is a much less developed one than the ones in which citizens co-publish with experts in peer-reviewed journals.

A citizen-scientific society needs to resolve a lot of institutional conundrums. It needs to adopt a view of scientific knowledge that allows wide-spread sharing of that knowledge (addressing the issue of academic copyrights), it needs networks and resources to ensure that everyone gets the basic education needed to participate. It also needs to resolve its relationship to knowledge in general. We have, to be honest, had a complicated relationship with knowledge in our society. Think about Prometheus, the Apple, Faust and others – the suggestion that knowledge may bring more evil than good is not universally frowned upon.

One of the ways we may organize is around games. In this really interesting talk Adrien Treuille shows a couple of very interesting examples of exactly how games can helps science.

There are a couple of things I really like about this talk. The first is that instead of talking about crowd-sourcing, mr Treuille suggests that we talk about crowd-solving. Crowds can solve difficult problems together, and then he notes something that I think is even more important. He says, in effect, that a society that has collaborated on solving a problem is more likely to implement the solutions as they are used to change the world. The ownership that comes from being included in the problem solving process creates the network of influentials needed to actually also use the solution to change the world. Both are fundamental insights.

An overview of how our organization of science is changing with many fascinating examples is found in the eminent book Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science by Michael Nielsen.

From blog posts to notes and apologies…

By Thursday, March 22, 2012 3 No tags Permalink 0

There is an interesting difference between blog posts and notes, at least I find I think of them as different things. For me blog posts should be written with an audience in mind. Notes, however, van just be assembled as reminders and notes to yourself. But maybe that difference is less thought-through than I would like. I have been thinking about what it would mean to share reading notes more widely, or just have them more accessible. Especially for books that should be read more slowly, like philosophical works. I mean, one could post blog post after blog post about obscure passages in Wittgenstein, and, um, I may have been guilty of that in the past, but it seems as if there should be a different format for that.

Now, my problem is that I think there would be a forum for sharing that too. Even though we may not be many, there are those of us who would like to share and discuss passages in Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Lovecraft and Zelazny. But are there good services for that? For sharing observations about works at a very, vert detailed level? The best I think I can do is to share a few Evernote notebooks and start seeing if those can become the notes that I want, and if there is anyone else who would like to discuss Rhees write-up of Wittgenstein’s aesthetics.

I will also see if I can find some other solutions for this use. Maybe there are special wiki-adaptations for close reading? Commentary? I would essentially like some kind of online publishing tool that allowed for the production of shared apologies for literary works in the older sense. I have looked at Scribilus but that was not exactly what I wanted, and my Kindle account is more a repository of the quotes. Any ideas would be appreciated.