Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The short view

In a well argued and thought-provoking piece a few days ago (Science and Web 2.0: Talking About Science vs. Doing Science), David Crotty argues that:
"Tools for communication are the low-hanging fruit, the obvious things to build based on Web 2.0 ventures that have worked in other areas, but so far they’ve failed to capture the interest of most scientists."
This is undeniably true, but it leads David to the conclusion that:
Every second spent blogging, chatting on FriendFeed, or leaving comments on a PLoS paper is a second taken away from other activities. Those other activities have direct rewards towards advancement.
Finding ways to help scientists spend more time at the bench and to get more out of that time will succeed where the current crop of peripheral distracting tools have failed.
While presently true, this is the short view, which fails to recognize the change that these tools are bringing, in science as in society. Scientists may not like them, but they're not going away. Just as in the last week Friendfeed has enabled us to set up a research collaboration with someone in Australia we have never met face to face, these tools will bring great changes to education. If people think the professional qualities we are instilling via Friendfolios are not significant, then they have truly missed the point of social tools: