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Note: I have decided to pepper the blog with a geo-rant every now and then. My first is about my (hopefully horribly misguided) perception that geologists as a group are really missing the boat with Web 2.0 and web-based collaboration.
A colleague recently reminded me of an interesting article published in Scientific American several months back. It describes the great utility of open, web-based collaboration and data sharing for advancing science. The following is a snippet from the article by M. Mitchell Waldrop:
The first generation of World Wide Web capabilities rapidly transformed retailing and information search. More recent attributes such as blogging, tagging and social networking, dubbed Web 2.0, have just as quickly expanded people’s ability not just to consume online information but to publish it, edit it and collaborate about it—forcing such old-line institutions as journalism, marketing and even politicking to adopt whole new ways of thinking and operating.
Science could be next. A small but growing number of researchers (and not just the younger ones) have begun to carry out their work via the wide-open tools of Web 2.0. And although their efforts are still too scattered to be called a movement—yet—their experiences to date suggest that this kind of Web-based “Science 2.0” is not only more collegial than traditional science but considerably more productive.
Take a few minutes (sure, you’re busy…so am I) and read this article in full. After reading it, I felt like some of my efforts in blogging and goading my colleagues to participate (to, alas, fairly little avail) in open and web-based collaboration were vindicated. Are you open to open science, or are you forever married to the old model? I started one research blog, Yeehow Central, in an effort to unite a small, active research group because I know that the concept has great potential in general. All my colleagues have managed to carve out some form of collaboration using email (good gawd!) but few if any are taking it to a higher, more productive level (blogging, real time group collaboration…e.g. check out Campfire…even IM/chat).

Is this not a painfully obvious way to go? I think so. I have devoted a fair amount of time to some very basic blogging at the very real risk of getting zero to hardly partial credit in my annual performance review. Why? Because it just seems so freaking obvious….is it just me and a few other neogeoheads / geogeeks? wtf?

Try something new. Sure you’re way too busy to do something like this, so am I. We are all busy. We are all stuck in various rut or two. That’s life. Is old school science and mapping going to rule your behavior for the rest of your career (or life for that matter)? Drag.


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