[cc-community] Science Commons [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Mon Oct 12 15:07:00 EDT 2009

On Monday 12 Oct 2009 19:40:17 Mike Linksvayer wrote:
> On Sun, Oct 11, 2009 at 3:03 PM, Trevor Wakely <T.Wakely at bom.gov.au> wrote:
> > Re: Science Commons...
> >
> > I heard about Science Commons - like Creative Commons for Scientists the
> > other day.
> >
> > Here's the web site:   http://sciencecommons.org/
> >
> > I heard about it on a podcast:
> > http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail4255.html
> Hi Trevor, Science Commons is actually a part of Creative Commons.
> See "programs" on the lower right column of http://creativecommons.org
> :)
> Some of our work in science involves mostly promoting and explaining
> our existing tools in that community (eg something like 1000 Open
> Access journals now are under CC licenses, mostly CC BY), some of it
> extends our technical Semantic Web work, eg for description and
> interoperability of scientific datasets, and some of it simply builds
> on our overall expertise in constructing sharing regimes that are
> "easy, legal, and scalable" to borrow from the .sig of John Wilbanks,
> who is our VP for science.

Sounds nice. My father who is a Bio-technologist told me that there's a lot of 
talk about open access in regards to publishing biological researches, but he 
said that you still usually need to pay for an electronic copy (and quite a 

In any case, I'd like to discuss a thought I had in regards to that. What I 
thought was that scientific papers require a lot of rigour - finding 
citations, going through peer review, etc. On the other hand, publishing on 
the Internet: in blogs, on personal web-sites, in blog/Slashdot/etc. comments, 
on mailing lists, etc. requires much less rigour and has a lower barrier to 
entry. Obviously, the median blog post/comment has incredibly low quality or 
relevance, but very few people will read it. However, there's enough bloggers 
and blog posters out there so the top low percentage (however small) of blog 
posts will be very good or insightful.

Paul Graham already wrote about how newspapers face competition from blogs:


Now I've recently written an essay on my web-site[1] called "What makes 
software high-quality".[2] Several people seemed to enjoy it, or had high-
quality commentary on it. However, someone I showed it to him (who is 
currently a university student) said that he enjoyed and would like to cite it 
in his works, but that would require me to cite my sources, which in turn will 
need to cite theirs.

Now, I would consider adding the relevant citations to the relevant scientific 
papers (which will imply reading them) too much trouble and not worth my time. 
I'm not sure I can ever publish it in a scientific journal, and just adding 
citations will make it more suitable only in a relatively small number of 
cases. I have better things to do, like work on newer articles, essays, 
stories or even blog posts.

My point in all this, is that it's possible that the added rigour of the 
scientific papers, (at least in some fields which don't really require it) 
will prove to be a huge slowdown in comparison to the blogosphere as the 
Internet has become more prevalent. And I'm not sure if they can keep up or if 
one day, science will advance without the extra rigour, just by the added peer 
scrutiny and review of the blogosphere.

As the obligatory XKCD nicely illustrates, no one is going to write a 
scientific paper criticising a bad blog comment:


So do you think scientific research in some fields of science will face 
similar competition from the blogosphere , like old-style newspapers or 
journals now do, or like vendors of proprietary software face from open-source 
developers? I think the time-to-market of Internet writing has some distinct 
advantages, but hopefully, it's not too full-of-hubris out of me to say that, 
since while I'm a bright, intelligent and prolific person, I am still very 
unprofessional in my methods in comparison to most researchers in my fields of 


	Shlomi Fish

[1] - I dislike calling it a blog, because:

1. I have several other blogs.

2. It's more organised than the average blog, with nice navigation menus, a 
hierarchy that makes sense, etc.

3. Most importantly, I put somewhat more effort into publicising an article 
there than I do to my blogs. It's not the same amount of effort, I would put 
into publishing a paper book, much less a scientific paper, but it is still 
much less spontaneous than writing a blog or blog comment. 

[2] - It can be found here:

Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
What Makes Software Apps High Quality -  http://shlom.in/sw-quality

Chuck Norris read the entire English Wikipedia in 24 hours. Twice.

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