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Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science Hardcover – October 23, 2011
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In Reinventing Discovery, Michael Nielsen introduces us to the new world of the modern scientist, where the Web is amplifying communication and accelerating discovery in unexpected ways, making for extraordinary problem solving. This is a unique and valuable book. -- Victoria Stodden, Columbia University
From the Inside Flap
"[Reinventing Discovery] opens with a fantastic account of what we can learn about the future of science from explorations such as the Polymath Project and 'the greatest chess game in history,' Kasparov vs. the World. But what really distinguishes it is its nuanced, intelligent descriptions of just how these projects work, noticing what is important about them in a way that few popular summaries do. . . . Highly recommended!"--Tim O'Reilly, Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media
"Anyone who has followed science in recent years has noticed something odd: science is less and less about a solitary scientist working alone in a lab. Scientists are working in networks, and those networks are gaining scope, speed, and power through the internet. Nonscientists have been getting in on the act, too, folding proteins and identifying galaxies. Michael Nielsen has been watching these developments too, but he's done much more: he's provided the best synthesis I've seen of this new kind of science, and he's also thought deeply about what it means for the future of how we understand the world.Reinventing Discovery is a delightfully written, thought-provoking book."--Carl Zimmer, author ofA Planet of Viruses and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution
"This is the book on how networks will drive a revolution in scientific discovery; definitely recommended."--Tyler Cowen, author ofThe Great Stagnation
"Science has always been a contact sport; the interaction of many minds is the engine of the discipline. Michael Nielsen has given us an unparalleled account of how new tools for collaboration are transforming scientific practice.Reinventing Discovery doesn't just help us understand how the sciences are changing, it shows us how we can participate in the change."--Clay Shirky, author ofHere Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus
"This wonderful book is a pleasure to read. Michael Nielsen writes in an authoritative yet clear, concise, and accessible style, making an informative and compelling case for open, networked science and how to achieve it."--William Dutton, director of the Oxford Internet Institute
"In Reinventing Discovery, Michael Nielsen introduces us to the new world of the modern scientist, where the Web is amplifying communication and accelerating discovery in unexpected ways, making for extraordinary problem solving. This is a unique and valuable book."--Victoria Stodden, Columbia University
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In any of the topics that I am deeply familiar with, such as the current reward system for academic scientists (peer-reviewed publications are gold), I can say that Nielsen is spot-on and insightful. He ties together well all of the stories and descriptions of the scientific process and by the end, I think he's done a great job of convincing us all of his main point: We have a tremendous opportunity to transform and multiply the power of scientific research in the coming decades. But it won't happen automatically and there are some attitudes and policies that need to be changed to ensure we achieve this revolution. Nielsen gives concrete specific solutions to the barriers to the revolution. Furthermore, he gives advice to all of us as to what we can do as individuals to promote a change in science. My students and I in our teaching and research labs have taken the leap towards open science, and it has been tremendously rewarding. So I encourage you to read this book and to take your own small steps towards transforming science, whether you're a scientist, a fan of science, or an interested supporter of science (taxpayer!).
I rate this book 5 stars. Incidentally, I almost rated it with 4 stars because I was so frustrated at the black and white photos that I desperately wanted to see in color when I was on the plane! I realize this is a cost issue, but DARN! I was able to cancel this negative factor by adding in a bonus star for a truly excellent job Nielsen does with sourcing his information. He does such a good job that you can even read the "notes" section and understand what he's talking about and learn further information beyond the text. Kudos to Nielsen for an excellent book!
A "data web" or Wikipedia of science is a great idea. You cannot abolish journals in the next 10-20 years, given money and self-preservation issues for these journals. And, peer review is currently necessary to prevent bad apes from publishing crappy or fraudulent science, although maybe being able to comment and vote papers up or down Amazon-like could be made to work, as discussed in a recent blog by Joe Pickrell in regards to "Why publish science in peer-reviewed journals".
For now, it is a good idea to publish papers in Open Access journals which have a policy of publishing sound science with less emphasis on subjective measurements of importance. This way, anyone anywhere can read your paper and give you feedback and improve the overall project, so that your paper becomes an evolving piece of work. A scientific paper can and should be changed in Wikipedia style, with dated entries for changes made, so that the paper grows and changes with time. There are a couple of relatively new open access journals that could maybe support such a format, including Discovery Medicine and the Frontiers series of open-access journals.
I also think that scientists should deposit all data, analyses and conclusions onto a hopefully soon-to-be-created Wikipedia-based science portal, or maybe the Synapse Portal being created now by Sage Bionetworks. Give everyone on the planet who wants one a unique researcher ID.
You don't have to reveal your researcher ID to anyone else, other than your tenure committee, boss, or whomever else you want or need to impress, so you remain anonymous to most people, if that is what you prefer. Thus, you can get credit (also known as micro-attribution) for all the comments, criticisms, and anything else you contribute on the Wikipedia site or on journal sites with comments on certain papers. If your value system is also that you are doing science to improve humanity, cure a disease, or advance fundamental knowledge, then you'll just add such comments to the Wiki site and onto online comments for published papers because that is the just the right thing to do.
The fundamental power of humans to get stuff done collectively is so incredibly obvious with Wikipedia already, but this is illustrated in other ways in this book in regards to the whole experiment with Fold-It.
People just hanging out in their home, with basically no knowledge of biochemistry, are helping to figure out protein folding. Give people a chance to contribute and they will do so.
Anyway, this is a fantastic book, highly recommended that everyone read this book! The author has done an amazing job of synthesizing quite a bit of information in his "call-to-arms" for open science.
Gholson J. Lyon, M.D. Ph.D.
Utah Foundation for Biomedical Research