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November 30, 2005

Nature Reports on Web 2.0

.: The v438 n7068 1 December 2005 issue of Nature is out today, and the News Features section focuses on Science in the Web Age, with three good reports on topics including social software such as blogs and wikis, the demise of print publications, and the impact of Google Scholar. Free access is available to the opening editorial by Sarah Tompkins, Science in the New Age: The Expanding Electronic Universe.

Declan Butler is the author of one of the features, Science in the New Age: Joint Efforts, in which he reports on blogging in science. Butler notes that while the Web is now moving in the direction of the "collaborative space" vision of its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, scientists seem to be slow to adopt new social software technologies, and are lagging behind in this movement. An excerpt from his article (subscription required):

For most users, the web in its first decade was like a big online library, where they mainly searched for information. Today it is undergoing a subtle but profound shift, dubbed Web 2.0, to become more of a social web, not unlike Berners-Lee's original vision. Yet scientists are largely being left behind in this second revolution, as they are proving slow to adopt many of the latest technologies that could help them communicate online more rapidly and collaboratively than they do now.

"I find it ironic that science is about the adoption, discovery and exploitation of new knowledge and techniques, yet the biggest revolution on the web is passing us by," says Greg Tyrelle, a bioinformatician at Chang Guan University in Taiwan. He has been experimenting with blog (short for web log) software for five years to interact with a growing audience of his peers and the wider public.

Declan was in contact with me earlier in November, as he prepared his report, and now has a blog, Declan Butler, Reporter.