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A big few weeks for open (notebook) science

12 December 2007 8 Comments

So while I have been buried in the paper- and lab-work there has been quite a lot of interesting stuff going on. Pedro Beltrao has started an Open Notebook style project at Google Code which he describes in a post on Public Ramblings. This in interesting, because once again someone is using a different system as an Open Notebook. We have Wiki’s, Blogs, TeX based documents, and now, software version repositories being used. As Jean-Claude Bradley has said and we have discussed we have a lot to learn from exploring different systems, both in terms of understanding the benefits and limitations of specific systems on the way to designing and implementing better ones, but also from the perspective of what this tells us about how we do our science, and how this differs from discipline to discipline. Indeed, there already seems to be a place where this discussion has started in Pedro’s system. It is great to see this going forward and also great to see other members of the community, including Bill Hooker and Michael Barton already getting in and getting their hands dirty. I only wish I could contribute a bit more on the science itself.

Also good is the publicity that Open Notebooks and Open Notebook Science are getting. An article in Chemistry World, the member’s journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, features UsefulChem, and discussion from Peter Murray-Rust, Steve Bachrach and others. Our efforts at Southampton even get a mention! What is good about this is not so much the personal publicity but that the mainstream ‘industry’ journals are increasingly starting to pick up the story. Not so long ago there was the article in Wired; Chemistry World has also recently discussed the issues associated with openness in a reasonably balanced manner (see also Peter Suber and Peter Murray-Rust’s commentaries).

In addition there is good coverage on the web. Rosie Redfield’s lab pages got featured by David Ng on World’s Fair on Science Blogs which was also picked up at BoingBoing (thanks to Neil Saunders for bringing this to my attention). Momentum is building as Neil says. The issues are becoming mainstream and the benefits are starting to flow through in specific cases. This is how things start to change. The challenge is in maintaining this forward momentum as it builds.


  • A great summary Cameron.

    I agree that it would be nice to keep the momentum going. I feel like this year ONS has just started to get wider publicity, with all the things that have been happening. I think it will be nice to review this post in a year’s time, to see how much further things have gone forward.

  • A great summary Cameron.

    I agree that it would be nice to keep the momentum going. I feel like this year ONS has just started to get wider publicity, with all the things that have been happening. I think it will be nice to review this post in a year’s time, to see how much further things have gone forward.

  • Indeed this is all good news and it helps move the conversation from limitations (IP, scooping, etc.) to what can be done (and then doing it).

  • Indeed this is all good news and it helps move the conversation from limitations (IP, scooping, etc.) to what can be done (and then doing it).

  • I think most people are aware that something is going on on the web that is useful for science and once they ear about ONS they tend to find the idea exciting but risky. Next year we should have a several examples of ONS projects getting published and hopefully more people will start when they see that there are mostly clear advantages.

  • I think most people are aware that something is going on on the web that is useful for science and once they ear about ONS they tend to find the idea exciting but risky. Next year we should have a several examples of ONS projects getting published and hopefully more people will start when they see that there are mostly clear advantages.

  • I think another thing to think about next year is to try and get some serious coverage. What do people think about trying to pitch a story to (say) New Scientist?

  • I think another thing to think about next year is to try and get some serious coverage. What do people think about trying to pitch a story to (say) New Scientist?