daniel's blog

Social networks for scientists - what works, and what doesn't? A workshop proposal


UNESCO has been central to the establishment, in 2004, of the World Association of Young Scientists (WAYS) that hosts this blog. Yet their ideas and those of us scientists (used here in the broader sense that includes all academic fields) as to how the network should be structured and operated were not always aligned. On the other hand, the common goals led to a number of common activities, most notably a series of sessions at the biannual World Science Forum.

In a meeting last week, the topic of social networks was discussed anew, and we noticed that our perspectives had come closer recently. For instance, they showed an avid interest in what science would look like if it were invented today and how to foster open approaches to science. These issues can hardly be discussed without reference to online platforms for scientists and their design features: What factors affect their use by scientists, what is working and what is not, and how does all this depend on the research focus of an individual, on their computer literacy, or on funding practices of the country in which they are based?

Humanity on Earth: Bending the curves

I just watched a TED talk by Johan Rockström that nicely sums up the current situation of our species on our planet.

I really recommend watching the video in full, but since I know that some of you will hesitate to do this, here is a brief travel guide through the video (times in min): The Earth is a complex system (7:15), and it faces multiple pressures (3:46) that are driving it away from its current equilibrium state. Such complex systems have multiple states of equilibrium, and the transitions between them may be sudden (5:36-5:38). The human contributions are nicely symbolized at 4:02 and detailed between 4:35 and 4:55.

For movie15-based 3D embeds, how to get u3d files?

I posted the following question over at tex.stackexchange but as a newbie there, I can only post one link, so I put a linked version here.

The movie15 package requires 3D files to be in u3d format for embedding into pdf. This works fine with the sample files provided, and I have no problem generating suitable 3D files, but so far, I have not found a way to convert them to u3d. MeshLab, usually the first place to go for such things, crashes during u3d export.

Re: We scare people off by talking about 'degrowth'

This is a comment on We scare people off by talking about 'degrowth' in The Ecologist — copied here for self-archiving purposes, keeping in mind that all comments previously made to the Times were recently lost when they erected their new pay wall.

Nice take on a crucial problem: If resources are limited (and they are), so is growth - how do we communicate that?

A few issues, though:

Open Science session at ESOF 2010 is set up for July 4, 15.45-17.00 in room Dublino

IAS2010: Is it hard being a scientist?

From June 14-25, an unusual event of science engagement took place online, which brought over 5000 school kids and 100 scientists together for chats and Q&A sessions on science and how life is like as a scientist: "I'm a Scientist". To get a flavour of these questions (of which over 7000 were asked in total), a few of them are displayed below (in original spelling):

I'm a Scientist and the Beryllium Fraud

I had trouble with the spam filter on this one, so I originally posted it here.



Starting this week, I have been part of "I'm a Scientist — Get me out of here", a very interesting science communication experiment, in which 8000 school kids and 100 scientists meet online (in 20 different places) to discuss what science means for them, and what is important about that (I try to keep track of it here).

Slides are up - on the wiki, that is

Later today, I will attend the Semantic Web Day in Leipzig and give a talk on Integrating wikis with scientific workflows. Perhaps appropriate to the topic, I did not prepare slides but a set of wiki pages.


Toll-access publishers congratulate Open-access publisher PLoS to its success

The title of this post misrepresents the position of the Society for Scholarly Publishing just about as much as their recent blog post did with the publishing practice, standards and goals of the Public Library of Science, and their journal PLoS ONE in particular. There may be a grain of truth in this headline, though, in that the rising heat of the debate may indeed be indicative of a tipping point coming in sight, after which toll-access (i.e. subscription-based) scientific journals would shrink into a niche in the prelude to a larger disruption of the scientific communication process, the transition to open science.

For details, please take a look at the reply that PLoS posted yesterday, and at one of the discussions that spun off the original blog post (which is linked from there). Both are embedded below.

OKCon 2010 as seen via tweets

In the spirit of Another Conference I did not attend, I embed below my summary of tweets on OKCon 2010, as well as the piratepad that pleasantly fulfilled the function of collaborative note taking, for which I had proposed a wiki-based attempt yesterday. While the former is unbeatably interactive (one of the best ways to attend a conference online if no audio/video is available), I think that the latter is more suitable for long-term archiving and structuring the information about the conference and its sessions and talks. Looking forward to another Etherpad-based attempt at OpenSciNY.

Collaborative conference blogging - this time in context

Later today, OKCon 2010 will take place — the fifth (or fourth, depending on whether WSFII 2005 counts or not) installment of the Open Knowledge Conference, organized on an annual basis by the Open Knowledge Foundation.

I have contributed to a paper (with @Tom Morris, who will present it) that is scheduled for the Community-Driven Research session and describes Citizendium as a platform for the collaborative structuring of knowledge by experts and the public. I cannot attend in person but will do so online via Twitter and Friendfeed, and this blend of wiki and microblogging on the same topic stimulated me to give collaborative blogging another try, this time via the wiki entry on the conference, embedded below. Caveat: only registered users can edit, but everyone can register, and approval rarely takes more than a few hours. If this is too late for you to keep your OKCon 2010 notes there, then the wiki can still serve to structure them later and to contextualize them. Or it can simply link to your blog posts, images and other materials on the matter.

I am also aware that, as long as wikis do not allow parallel editing in the same sections of a document, Etherpad clones would be an alternative, and they may indeed get their try in a few weeks too.

Anyway, here we go for the wiki variant:

What could an online tool do to support your research?

The British Library are currently running what they call a "Biomedical Research Information Support Survey", whose last question is number 31:



I do not think that discussing this supplementary question here would spoil the survey, so I invite possible answers, irrespective of whether you filled in the survey or not. I shall post a screenshot of my answer here tomorrow.

Notes from another conference I did not attend: CPOV 2010

I couldn't attend CPOV 2010 in person but followed it via Twitter and took a number of screenshots, which I combined into this animation (3:10 min in total, at 0.5 frames per second). I also attached it as an animated gif at 1 frame per second but this may be just illustrative of information overflow.