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Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science Hardcover – Oct 23 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (Oct. 23 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691148902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691148908
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #147,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Verdon on Feb. 4 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful account of how the digital environment is changing how we work - in this case how science is done, and who can do science. The first half of the book is the best as it uses a number of case to illustrate Big Data projects and the positive potential of 'Big' open data. For anyone interested in the implications of open data this is a great resource. He elaborates how the digital environment allows us to connect the right person with the right knowledge to the right situation - helping to restructure expert/knowledge attention.

He provides the foundation - the cases for understanding that the wisdom of crowds is in fact a way of social computing.

The second half of the book is focused more on the policy implications necessary to democratize science, accelerate discovery, improve access to the results of science, reshape how we incentivize scientist to share their data to create open data and enable how new ways of asking questions and finding answers. He challenges the hold that old methods of science journals have and how it was once the key to spreading knowledge but has become a throttle today.

This is an important topic today - if only our politician understood these issues to help in shaping our 21st century infrastructure. Highly recommend this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating read and great introduction to the untapped power of open science Oct. 28 2011
By Steven J. Koch - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read Nielsen's new book cover to cover on my flights to / from an Open Access Week event in Tucson this week and I give it my strongest recommendation for a pleasurable read about a crucial topic. I am a scientist and my students and I practice open science as much as possible--open notebook science, open protocols, open data, open proposals, etc. I have also seen the author, Michael Nielsen speak a couple times, and I have read many of his blog posts. So, before reading this book I didn't necessarily expect to learn much or certainly to be further convinced of the possibility of transforming science in this new era. From the moment I started reading, though, I was captivated. Many of the stories were not new to me (such as Galaxy Zoo or the polymath project), but I hadn't heard them in such detail before and I enjoyed learning a lot more about those successful crowd- or citizen-science projects. There were also many success and failure stories in open or collaborative science that I hadn't known about, such as the Microsoft-sponsored "Kasparov versus the world" chess event, or the research into how small groups can make bad decisions if the collaborative conditions aren't set up correctly. I learned a lot from these new stories, and remained captivated throughout.

In any of the topics that I am deeply familiar with, such as the current reward system for academic scientists (peer-reviewed publications are gold), I can say that Nielsen is spot-on and insightful. He ties together well all of the stories and descriptions of the scientific process and by the end, I think he's done a great job of convincing us all of his main point: We have a tremendous opportunity to transform and multiply the power of scientific research in the coming decades. But it won't happen automatically and there are some attitudes and policies that need to be changed to ensure we achieve this revolution. Nielsen gives concrete specific solutions to the barriers to the revolution. Furthermore, he gives advice to all of us as to what we can do as individuals to promote a change in science. My students and I in our teaching and research labs have taken the leap towards open science, and it has been tremendously rewarding. So I encourage you to read this book and to take your own small steps towards transforming science, whether you're a scientist, a fan of science, or an interested supporter of science (taxpayer!).

I rate this book 5 stars. Incidentally, I almost rated it with 4 stars because I was so frustrated at the black and white photos that I desperately wanted to see in color when I was on the plane! I realize this is a cost issue, but DARN! I was able to cancel this negative factor by adding in a bonus star for a truly excellent job Nielsen does with sourcing his information. He does such a good job that you can even read the "notes" section and understand what he's talking about and learn further information beyond the text. Kudos to Nielsen for an excellent book!
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Most Compelling Manifesto yet for Open Science Oct. 25 2011
By Gholson Lyon - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read many books purchased at Amazon, but I have never written or submitted a review on any of them. This is the first book that I felt compelled on some level to comment on, as it really is the best manifesto for open science that I have read to date.

A "data web" or Wikipedia of science is a great idea. You cannot abolish journals in the next 10-20 years, given money and self-preservation issues for these journals. And, peer review is currently necessary to prevent bad apes from publishing crappy or fraudulent science, although maybe being able to comment and vote papers up or down Amazon-like could be made to work, as discussed in a recent blog by Joe Pickrell in regards to "Why publish science in peer-reviewed journals".

For now, it is a good idea to publish papers in Open Access journals which have a policy of publishing sound science with less emphasis on subjective measurements of importance. This way, anyone anywhere can read your paper and give you feedback and improve the overall project, so that your paper becomes an evolving piece of work. A scientific paper can and should be changed in Wikipedia style, with dated entries for changes made, so that the paper grows and changes with time. There are a couple of relatively new open access journals that could maybe support such a format, including Discovery Medicine and the Frontiers series of open-access journals.

I also think that scientists should deposit all data, analyses and conclusions onto a hopefully soon-to-be-created Wikipedia-based science portal, or maybe the Synapse Portal being created now by Sage Bionetworks. Give everyone on the planet who wants one a unique researcher ID.
You don't have to reveal your researcher ID to anyone else, other than your tenure committee, boss, or whomever else you want or need to impress, so you remain anonymous to most people, if that is what you prefer. Thus, you can get credit (also known as micro-attribution) for all the comments, criticisms, and anything else you contribute on the Wikipedia site or on journal sites with comments on certain papers. If your value system is also that you are doing science to improve humanity, cure a disease, or advance fundamental knowledge, then you'll just add such comments to the Wiki site and onto online comments for published papers because that is the just the right thing to do.

The fundamental power of humans to get stuff done collectively is so incredibly obvious with Wikipedia already, but this is illustrated in other ways in this book in regards to the whole experiment with Fold-It.

People just hanging out in their home, with basically no knowledge of biochemistry, are helping to figure out protein folding. Give people a chance to contribute and they will do so.

Anyway, this is a fantastic book, highly recommended that everyone read this book! The author has done an amazing job of synthesizing quite a bit of information in his "call-to-arms" for open science.

Gholson J. Lyon, M.D. Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Utah Foundation for Biomedical Research
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Easy Human Potential Availed in this Book is Staggering Jan. 22 2012
By Jeff Bennett - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book really lines up with where some of our brightest minds would be well placed. It centers on Science and Math disciplines, but its application goes for beyond.

I have long believed that decision making methodologies are one of the places where there is the most easy ground to gain. We mostly do not make good decisions, we have no effective methodology, our biases run amock, facts don't matter near as much as they should and most people don't know or couldn't care less what that means in terms of results.

This book made me think more about how online tools could shepherd decision making in certain situations where something called praxis (not theory or opinion) could be agreed upon. Where opinions rule, collaboration may actually produce "collective stupidity". Collective intelligence really requires and shared and agreed upon base of principles and facts that clearly can define right from wrong to a degree.

But where answers really exist, software and web technologies provide us many great opportunities to advance. We can fairly easily and effectively experiment our way to a set of such tools by measure of results and extend.

This idea lends itself to itself. Imagine and Open Source Web enabled Collaboration Tool Set that develops a tool people can use to improve the tools themselves and then be used for other efforts bringing back more ideas for tools that work. There is something wonderful, especially in software development, to using your own tools to do the work. Here that strategy might really pay dividends in a very leveraged way. Anyone knows of such an effort, please comment as I would love to help with it.

This book is very much about online collaboration. I was more interested in the general potential of the notion than the science. I found it easy enough to focus on the part that really was of interest to me. Some may not.

Terrific work by the author and I am especially grateful for the reference list in the back of the book. I will go through it in detail.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Enthusiastic, thoughtful advocacy of using Internet tools to change and accelerate the process of scientific discovery Jan. 15 2012
By E. Jaksetic - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The author contends that the use of various Internet tools has shown the potential for improving scientific research, and that a better and more effective use of various Internet tools could significantly improve and accelerate the process of scientific research. More specifically, the author: (1) compares and contrasts traditional scientific research with contemporary scientific research; (2) notes the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of each approach; and (3) discusses various ways that Internet tools can be used to conduct, and improve the process of, scientific research. The author supports his contentions, arguments, and conclusions with references to historical and modern examples of scientific research. Any reader interested in further pursuing the subjects and ideas discussed in the book can find numerous citations in the book's "Selected Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading," "Notes," and "References" sections.

The author's willingness to recognize the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of various approaches to scientific research goes a long way toward preventing his book from being an unrealistic, speculative tract, or an unfair critique of traditional scientific research. Although the author enthusiastically advocates his views, he does not exaggerate the benefits of his proposals and does not ignore or downplay their weaknesses and limitations. Whether you find the author's contentions, arguments, and conclusions persuasive or not, the book is worth reading. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of a timely and important topic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Good Example of How to Establish Group Work Jan. 8 2013
By Trurl - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The description of this book has been well covered in the other reviews. I want to share why I bought this book. I was looking for a book on how to build a group to work on projects such as starting a maker space. The only books I found were based more on the theory of creativity but nothing practical that showed how people would actually share information. I found this book on Audible and listened to the sample and instantly knew I had the right book.

This book was useful because it showed the way science should be shared and collaborated with. It had simple examples which throughout the book lead to profound thoughts on what collective intelligence and new computer technologies could mean to how the scientific community makes discoveries.

I focused on the citizen scientist who is using such things as Galaxy Zoo and the Foldit Gene video game. I think this all relates to a maker space because of the need to use modern computing to bring together a group of people with different creative talents. With different work schedules and commitments being able to share information between members could be augmented with practices described in this book. In fact I think the scientific community could learn from Makers as to how to share information. The entire maker space movement is based on sharing projects.

I did not build a maker space yet. But I find this book inspiring. I compare this book to others I looked at and the others are not very useful because the others are just theories of some unknown, unachievable level of creativity that is unreachable. This book was a good find. It puts the intangible into simple steps toward reaching total scientific openness and explains how that transparency will benefit everyone and shape discovery.

BTW, I have tried to build open source math problems on my personal website. I have the side, side, angle opposite, but not the Law of Cosines. I also tried to make a pattern of Prime numbers in a logarithmic spiral by means of a cubic equation. To say the least the math wasn't a success at least as far as participation. It was a success in feedback. I met some people to correspond math with. And also a lot of "you are an idiot" comments.

From my understanding of this book, a problem like a series in Prime numbers is only going to be solved by collective intelligence. The problem is deciding which information to use and organize. But people have a way of finding the information they need to make discoveries.

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