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The long slow catchup…

16 September 2008 8 Comments

I’m a little shell shocked really. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks running around like a lunatic, being at meetings, organising meetings, flying out to other meetings. And then flying back to try and catch up with all the things that need doing before the next flurry of activity strikes (which involves less travel and more experiments you will be pleased to know). There are two things I desperately need to write up.

The Open Science workshop at Southampton on September 1 seemed to be well received and was certainly interesting for me.  Despite having a very diverse group of people we did seem to manage to have a sensible discussion that actually came to some conclusions. This was followed up by discussions with the web publishing group at Nature where some of these ideas were refined – more on this will follow!

Following on from this (and with a quick afternoon jaunt to Bristol for the Bristol Knowlege Unconference on the evening of September 5 I flew to Toronto en route to Waterloo for Science in the 21st Century, allowing for a brief stop for a Nature Network Toronto pub night panel session with Jen Dodd, Michael Nielsen, and Timo Hannay. The organisers of Science21, but in particular Sabine Hossenfelder, deserve huge congratulations for putting together one of the most diverse and exciting conferences I have ever been to. With speakers from historians to sociologists, hedge fund managers to writers, and even the odd academic scientist the sheer breadth of material covered was quite breathtaking.

You can see most of the talks and associated material on the Perimeter Institute Seminar Archive page here. The friendfeed commentary is also available in the science21 room. Once again it was a great pleasure to meet people I kind of knew but hadn’t ever actually met such as Greg Wilson and John Dupuis as well as to meet new people including (but by no means limited to) Harry Collins, Paul Guinnessy, and David Kaiser. We have yet to establish whether I knew Jen Dodd in a previous life…

Very many ideas will come out of this meeting I think – and I have no doubt you will see some interesting blog posts from others with the science21 tag coming out over the next few weeks and months. A couple of particular things I will try to follow up on;

  • Harry Collins spoke about categorisations of tacit (i.e. non-communicated) knowledge and how these relate to different categories of expertise. This has obvious implications for our mission to describe our experiments to a level where there is ‘no insider information’. The idea that we may be able to rationally describe what we can and cannot expect to be able to communicate and that we can therefore concentrate on the things that we can is compelling.
  • Greg Wilson made a strong case for the fully supported experiment that echoed my own thoughts about the recording of data analysis procedures. He was focussed on computational science but I think his point goes much wider than that. This requires some thought and processing but for me it is clear that the big challenge in communicating the details of our experiments now clearly lies in communicating process rather than data.

Each of these deserves its own post and will hopefully get it. And I am also aware that I owe many of you comments, replies, or other things – some more urgent than others. I’ll be getting to them as soon as I can dig myself out from under this pile of……


  • Indeed there is nothing like trying to prioritize the mountain of stuff waiting from a few weeks absence :)

    I look forward to reading some more about your exploits in Canada. I’ll bet it was warmer than Edinburgh..

  • Indeed there is nothing like trying to prioritize the mountain of stuff waiting from a few weeks absence :)

    I look forward to reading some more about your exploits in Canada. I’ll bet it was warmer than Edinburgh..

  • When you want to get something done ask a busy person (so they say!), so I thought I would add one more item to your list. To take you back to the now ancient history of Sciblog 2008, you might remember that I briefly introduced e-CAT, Axiope’s new online lab notebook. Beta testing of e-CAT went live this morning, so when you do get a moment you can watch the videos and read about e-CAT’s features on the revamped axiope.com site. And you can check out the inaugural blog post to get an idea of the history and our aims in introducing e-CAT–I also talk a bit about the inspiration we got from you and other science bloggers over the past year or so. Feedback on e-CAT would of course be much appreciated!

    Rory Macneil

  • When you want to get something done ask a busy person (so they say!), so I thought I would add one more item to your list. To take you back to the now ancient history of Sciblog 2008, you might remember that I briefly introduced e-CAT, Axiope’s new online lab notebook. Beta testing of e-CAT went live this morning, so when you do get a moment you can watch the videos and read about e-CAT’s features on the revamped axiope.com site. And you can check out the inaugural blog post to get an idea of the history and our aims in introducing e-CAT–I also talk a bit about the inspiration we got from you and other science bloggers over the past year or so. Feedback on e-CAT would of course be much appreciated!

    Rory Macneil

  • hey Jean-Claude, good to see you got home ok! Hope Edinburgh wasn’t too cold. Rory, just had a poke around the site. Very nice offering. I have some thoughts and queries but will have to have a think about those before getting back to you.

  • hey Jean-Claude, good to see you got home ok! Hope Edinburgh wasn’t too cold. Rory, just had a poke around the site. Very nice offering. I have some thoughts and queries but will have to have a think about those before getting back to you.

  • rpg

    Hi Rory

    That looks brilliant. If I were a PI I’d certainly be signing up to the beat; as it is it would just double my note-taking load… :/

  • rpg

    Hi Rory

    That looks brilliant. If I were a PI I’d certainly be signing up to the beat; as it is it would just double my note-taking load… :/