SSP09: Liveblogged Keynote by Seed's Adam Bly

May 28 2009 Published by under Conferences

Re-architecting Science:
A Vision for STM in the 21st Century

by Adam Bly

Opening Keynote, May 28, 2009 - this is live blogged, basically notes
on what he said... analysis to follow.

Where the world is today,
where science is, at a high level.. Need to solve problems using a
systems approach.  Study of epidemics requires understanding
of climate change, need to study growth, need to study demographics and
the future of society, etc.

These are tough times, need science more than ever, but they are
optimistic times because what we know and what we can know.

Exciting things happening high energy physics, telescopes, .. oops,
mentioned Ida as a possible missing link, guess he doesn't read Laelaps!

Science is culture, and we stand at the beginning of a new renaissance
of science, it's methods, its basis in empiricism. It can become the
primary lens through which we govern and we know the world.
 Science is being used to plan cities, it's being used to
establish rights for apes in Spain (?!?), ... science is critical to...

[Ok, I love science, but seriously, there has been "scientific" city
planning for decades if not centuries, it's just the metaphor to
metabolic pathways or networks that is new.  What about ww2
and post ww2 operations research stuff, too, eh? ] 

knowledge is good, asking
questions is good, where changing your mind based on new evidence -
formerly called flip-flopping - is a virtue.


Massive change, we need to
understand scientists, how they work, how
they view their workflows, how they view the future. They did a state
of science survey (Seed State of Science Report). A heterogeneous
sample, for sure, but we can say a few things:
  • science is not a closed system (not Snow's 2 Cultures), it
    is porous, interacting with art, and ways of new knowledge outside of
    scientific methods (65% cited literature as having an influence on
    their science, 73% of scientist say world affairs impact, 63% say
    politics do), science is fundamentally a human endeavor
  • global collaboration is fundamental, 62% of scientists are
    involved in at least one international collaboration, articles
    co-authored by authors from multiple countries from 8% to 22% of total
  • peer review still matters, 77% agree
  • scientists care, 80% feel obliged to do work that
    benefits humanity [others are mathematicians - just kidding!], 61% feel
    obliged to speak with journalists about their work (COOL!), 74% feel
    obliged talk to policymakers. Demographic shifts, more science
    graduates, bigger portion of the work force, more women than men in the
    under 30 group
  • born digital have come of age (tons of info) 84% of
    scientists believe that their papers should be freely available to
    other scientists and the public,. International collaborations are
    growing - they need better collaboration tools. Scientists are
    streaming live data. Scientists are using blogs (ooh, stat please?
    quote from Mr.Gunn - cool!) here it is 34% of scientists use
    but the web is broken for
    finding research. It's fragmented its designed to the same way
    commercial sites are designed (quote from Wilbanks). It's like duct
    tape on a new spectrometer (picture). 
  • globalization - more than just new markets to sell our
    stuff, more scientists from China than other parts of the world, do we
    not think culture will change? research ethics? culture of these
    countries will change how science is done. Scienceblogs in br is bigger
    than Scienceblogs de
  • we have been here before - our industry has been here to
    catalyze change, like in industrial revolution, science publishing
    flourished and was critical for the advancement of scientific
    knowledge, science is a cumulative enterprise, communication is
    vital... dissemination of accurate science is vital to policymakers.
     (history of scholarly journals - from letters, Oldenburg,
Wrapping up - fix
discovery (my rephrase), fix international collaboration - make easier,
 not for incremental change but  for massive change,
reboot stm for the 21st c
  • need digital core (not just tools), for knowledge
  • need common standards, increase crowd-sourced innovation,
    help these so they can be integrated to provide meaningful value to
  • free flow of information (today, it's designed to limit
    use), can't artificially limit science, science can't afford that
  • advance interdisciplinary science, restructure societies
  • connect developed to developing world
  • (for librarians) - we need to do better extracting
    knowledge from data (he then showed a lot of visualizations) We don't
    want to become complacent, and  essentialized data, when we
    need to go deeper. Librarians and Information Scientists need to help
    us learn how to deal with this data.   Can visualization be a
    new language so that biochemists and physicists can both intuitively
    understand what's going on
  • bring scientists together and together with resources, so
    when we bring scientists together, it's with what they need to do
    science including resources and with free flowing communication
  • lead the social change toward universal science literacy.
  • "they're not our readers" - very little brand loyalty,
    scientists and scholars seek truth, need to collaborate
(totally random brainstorm
- what if libraries could take a picture of some scientists
bookshelf/desktop, feed that into a system which will extract book
names, check the open url resolver/catalog for them ,and then output a
digital bookshelf with the same titles....seriously, that's not that
far away, wouldn't that be cool?)

New projects, new announcements

  • letters in 1666 > blogs today (34% of scientists) -
    but these are distributed all over the blogosphere, how can scientists
    find what they need to read? - today 2nd
  • free service to publishers - new application to allow
    publishers and societies to reintroduce these research  posts
    back to the journals - first two publishers PLOSone and The Royal
    Society (the first journal) "researchblogging connect"
  • researchblogging linking to data
  • researchblogging working with CrossRef
  • new information science channel
  • working with GE, using large datasets - health information
    - (something like healthy
  • will be introducing new software to help collaboration in
We cannot be the
impediment to discovery, scientists need us, the world needs scientists
(maybe not exact, but close to what he said)

[WRT fixing discovery, my place of work is working on various aspects
of this, but it is very hard.  I'll blog soon about "the
discovery layer" and some ideas]  

4 responses so far

  • Laelaps says:

    "oops, mentioned Ida as a possible missing link, guess he doesn't read Laelaps!"
    I guess not! I just can't compete with the media machine, try as I might. 😉

  • bill says:

    "they're not our readers" - very little brand loyalty
    Except when it comes to journals. I think there's a cultural difference here, I get the sense that phys scientists and engineers are less likely to rely on journal names (viz reputations) to choose their reading.

  • Mr. Gunn says:

    Just to clarify, I don't think the 34% of scientists are using blogs number came from me but I'd love to know what quote he did use.
    I do have some very rough data on that, though. From the 80+ people we polled in the San Diego area, though, including scientists and people working in other roles for biotech companies, 28% reported they visit science blogs once a week or more. >70% reported familiarity with Facebook and LinkedIn.
    We're getting there!

  • Someone can correct me - but I believe the stats were part of his listing of information from Seed's State of Science report which resulted from a massive international survey.