Reimagining Science Networks - Quantum Pontiff
    By Hank Campbell | July 20th 2010 03:30 PM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    Dave Bacon, who used to be at Scienceblogs it seems (though not a departed because of Pepsigate, at least from what I gathered) outlines a pretty good vision of what the future of science networks might be.

    Obviously we are a science network but we are not the only model - however, we are very much Science 2.0 whereas Scienceblogs was Blogging 1.0 (and yet I would regard Adam Bly as a Science 2.0 pioneer, even though Scienceblogs is not a Science 2.0 site - makes no sense?   You'll have to buy the book) and there are tangential ways to go as well, something a quantum physicist would surely understand, living in a world of complex adaptive systems.

    He points out what many members here already know but new readers may not:  A structure allows for good content to get more visibility.   Our featured section is populated by featured columnists who have earned their way there, but also by promotion from moderators.   So if someone is a brand new blogger, they don't have to disappear quickly, a moderator can promote it from blog to article in our worldwide feed, to featured article.   Good stuff rises but something that is just a link and discussion (like this blog post) won't clog up the front page for a week.

    He then goes on to discuss other things but I won't rehash them here (go read his article and come back, I'll wait) and instead agree that being in a network allows for an assumption for a certain amount of quality and it opens up a much larger audience for everyone through the miracle of compounding.

    He says Scienceblogs, should it rise from the ashes, get a stronger technical base - a dedicated programmer (like the guy we have here) along with an active participant behind it all (ahem - me) ... basically, he says Scienceblogs should become Science 2.0.  

    I wouldn't go that far but I do agree that taking the minutiae out of the hands of scientists and science book authors and adding in a lot of cool community features would be a step toward reinvigorating that brand.


    Thanks for noticing my post :) The funny thing is, when I was writing it, I wasn't certain in what I was saying, and had the feeling that I was leaving something out. I.e. I think there is a ton of innovation that can be done with science networks and look forward to seeing what people like you, Seed, Nature, etc come up with.

    You were, by immediate intent or not, endorsing all of the good stuff of a large site - community, quality baseline, more readers - while asking for the dopey stuff to be taken out, like not being able to get bug fixes, and some more flexibility in how things worked.

    Some of it is impossible, like true customization of columns - if you have ever looked at MySpace, you know why giving thousands of people control over their HTML can take you to a weird place - but a common framework and customization within it is possible.   Most scientists here enjoy having transparency of the interface - there are a lot of tools available regarding traffic analysis and too many social features to count, but none of it is forced on them so it can just be a place where they come, write and leave as well.   Keeping it simple for most and nifty for the addicts is the balancing act.

    We're doing product planning this weekend for version 3.0 of the site (50% work and 50% watching Robotech and eating pizza while we talk about science) and I took some notes from your article.  Anyone who has written science on the Internet for as long as you have has good ideas so I am not ashamed to admit I will poach them.