Author Topic: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen  (Read 14347 times)

zutopian

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #45 on: May 05, 2012, 05:20:08 am »
"The Guardian" article by Science Minister David Willetts, 1 May 2012:
"Open, free access to academic research? This will be a seismic shift"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/01/open-free-access-academic-research

Rick Nowell

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #46 on: May 10, 2012, 09:14:26 am »
Having now read this, I felt I should jot a few views down. It is easy to be sceptical about a book
which continually aspires to a utopian ideal that all science data should be open and free. I am
certainly not a professional scientist and therefore have little idea about having to chase money
to do research- very few 'laypeople' have. But we live in a world where money rules all - even GZ has
to fund itself! So if there is no money for open science from whoever might provide it anyway, then
the ideal that all scientists should have openly-accessible data seems a dream. The fact that
the book was financed by George Soros, the billionaire financier, seems not to be mentioned at all.

GZ is put forward as being in the vanguard of open science, yet is criticised for being fundamentally
conservative, as after all its primary concern is putting out papers; papers that have been funded by
whoever, but could be said to have benefited those who wrote the papers by means of research grants,
rather than anyone who has sat down and done the classifications. Indeed, a retired physicist from
my local astronomy club went so far as to say that the real genius behind GZ was that the scientists
had got other people to do their research for them. His opinion.

Scientists who engage in research often seem to regard themselves as above the rest of humanity.
They often as well appear to get things very wrong - the debacle over the faster-than-light neutrinos
is an example. A person who builds the university and its research facilities can be said to be of far more
use to humanity than a scientist that puts out yet another paper on, say, Dark Matter. So it is easy to
be sceptical about science and scientists, although having written that, a project such as unravelling the
human genome has an everyday benefit to the rest of humanity. The device I am writing this on is the
result of enormous amounts of research science. Parts of Astrophysics though do seem to be baroque
and of little practical use- does society really benefit from finding out whether galaxies spin to the left
or to the right?

But put another way, yes society does benefit from an online project such as GZ (there aren't that
many others to compare with) and its decendents, in that demonstrates a way forward for online
science- come up with a good enough idea then the public will join in: 675,000 people can't all be wrong!
New objects or theories can be discovered by citizen scientists working on crowdsourced projects using
collective intelligence and with some serendipity (luck- designed or not) science as a whole can be
changed for the better. On a personal level, through good fortune, genuine altruism and much application,
I helped discover a new class of galaxy. Which is more important though? The discovery or the act of
doing new science online: the result or the action - an unqualified citizen scientist making that contribution.

Zooites are taking part in a new type of science online that has involved hundreds of thousands of people.
Is that enough to justify itself? Various discoveries from GZ are seen as 'remarkable science' by the Nielsen's
book. Is that true or just words to fill pages? What is worthwhile science anyway? Who in the end gets
paid?

EigenState

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #47 on: May 11, 2012, 07:52:20 pm »
Greetings,

... Parts of Astrophysics though do seem to be baroque and of little practical use- does society really benefit from finding out whether galaxies spin to the left or to the right?

Fundamental research has never been about matters of pragmatic utility.  It is about the advancement of knowledge for its own sake.  Should pragmatic applications come after the fact--so be it.

Best regards,
ES

Rick Nowell

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #48 on: June 18, 2012, 06:11:16 pm »
Michael Nielsen kindly replied to some feedback that I offered him to do with
the colour of the Green Peas as if one was nearby. In his book he writes
that they would be red- some information he had got from the forum. After I
consulted with (Prof.) Bill Keel about the actual nearby colour, we settled on
a blue-white colour, perhaps with a hint of green. After all, they are blue
compact dwarfs and not red compact dwarfs. Michael thus recognises this
and has put a note on his errors webpage.
http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/errata-for-reinventing-discovery/

StephanieC

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #49 on: July 01, 2012, 07:52:18 pm »
GZ is put forward as being in the vanguard of open science, yet is criticised for being fundamentally
conservative, as after all its primary concern is putting out papers; papers that have been funded by
whoever, but could be said to have benefited those who wrote the papers by means of research grants,
rather than anyone who has sat down and done the classifications. Indeed, a retired physicist from
my local astronomy club went so far as to say that the real genius behind GZ was that the scientists
had got other people to do their research for them. His opinion.

One of the things that endlessly amazes me is the amount of talent that society allows to go to waste. I cheer when people tell me that they've decided to make the leap and do something different just because it is what they want to do. We are expected to fill a role and people seldom consider that we could be doing something totally different, had our lives gone in a different direction. Citizen science is a way to tap into that talent pool. It' true we don't get paid to do this, but I know I am richer for it nonetheless. Really, the genius isn't in "getting" other people to do the research - it is in realizing that all you have to do is ask.


StephanieC

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #50 on: July 01, 2012, 07:54:30 pm »
Michael Nielsen kindly replied to some feedback that I offered him to do with
the colour of the Green Peas as if one was nearby. In his book he writes
that they would be red- some information he had got from the forum. After I
consulted with (Prof.) Bill Keel about the actual nearby colour, we settled on
a blue-white colour, perhaps with a hint of green. After all, they are blue
compact dwarfs and not red compact dwarfs. Michael thus recognises this
and has put a note on his errors webpage.
http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/errata-for-reinventing-discovery/

And thanked you, as well!

JeanTate

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #51 on: January 21, 2014, 12:35:04 am »
I'm very, very late to this party, having only now just finished reading the book (I'm still going through the footnotes).

Or perhaps that's no bad thing; after all, I have first-hand experience of today's Galaxy Zoo (and Zooniverse, and ...) as well as some - very limited! - experience of what it was like then (well, sometime after 'then', but still).

I've a lot to say, perhaps too much, and I've no idea how interesting it will be to any reader; worse, perhaps, I suspect that many of the zooites who've posted here no longer even read posts in this forum, much less participate (zutopian is an obvious exception, as is Hanny).

This thread played a part in making this happen. Just announced on the Zooniverse and GZ blogs: Many Zooniverse Papers Now Open Access. Short form - the management of the press which produces MNRAS (the journal which has published most Galaxy Zoo papers), has agreed to make Zoo papers open-access. I completely didn't expect see this coming, and am greatly impressed.

Who'd'a thunk it?!?!  :o 8) ;D Could Nielsen have predicted such a thing would happen so quickly?

American Astronomical Society prize to Chris Lintott!
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has just announced that the Beatrice M. Tinsley prize goes to ... Chris Lintott. This award, made biennially, recognizes "an outstanding research contribution to astronomy or astrophysics, of an exceptionally creative or innovative character." His role in the whole suite of Zoniverse projects certainly qualifies!

Wah! A MAZE ING!

JeanTate

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #52 on: January 22, 2014, 11:43:08 pm »
GitHub gets prominent mention - of the positive kind - in Nielsen's book. As does 'Open Source'.

How delighted he would surely have been to read Zooniverse blog posts such as Galaxy Zoo is Open Source, and Zooniverse, GitHub and the future:)

Here's the first three paras of the latter; I'm quoting them in full because I seriously doubt I could do even a tenth as well, in terms of sketching how the Zooniverse aligns with some of Nielsen's core visions:

Quote from: arfon
In case you haven’t noticed I’ve had a pretty busy five years at the Zooniverse. With more than 25 projects launched in fields from astronomy to biodiversity and from climataology all the way to zoology, it’s been an incredible experience to work with so many new science teams hungry for answers to research questions that can only be answered by enlisting the help of a large number of volunteers. This model of citizen science, one where we boil down the often complex analysis task brought to us by a science team to the ‘simplest thing that will work’, build a rich user experience and then ask a bunch of people to help, seems to work pretty well.

For me, one of the best aspects of what I get to do is that I work in a domain that is an inherently open way of doing research. Having joined Zooniverse when we were still ‘just’ Galaxy Zoo, to see the range of projects we host broaden and to watch our community mature has been a remarkable experience. With our latest endeavour – the Galaxy Zoo Quench project – it’s clear that the line between the activites of the ‘science’ team and the ‘volunteers’ is becoming less defined by the day. Citizen-led science in the Zooniverse began with a group of people in the Galaxy Zoo Forum, ‘The Peas Corp’ when they discovered a new class of galaxy, and it continues today with volunteers discovering new types of worms, exotic exoplanets and even, through Quench, analysing and writing a new paper as a group. These of course are just examples I’ve taken from the Zooniverse and there are many more in other projects run by other people, but in each case the result is the same: by enagaing the public in a meaningful way Citizen Science is challenging the centuries old practices of academia and that has to be a good thing.

The opportunity to change the way science is done, whether it’s building software to increase efficiency or developing new collaboration models, is what brought me to the Zooniverse and now it’s what is leading me away. At the end of September this year I’m going to be hanging up my hat as Technical Lead of the Zooniverse and joining GitHub as their ‘science guy’.

JeanTate

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Re: We're in a book! "Reinventing Discovery" by Michael Nielsen
« Reply #53 on: March 20, 2014, 02:18:13 pm »
Here's something quite cool, presented at the 2014 January AAS Meeting, "Costs and benefits of developing out in the open" (ADS listing):

Quote from: David Hogg
My group has 8 years of experience developing source code in entirely in the open, in publicly available version-control repositories. Even papers being drafted for the scientific literature and proposals for research funding are developed in full public view. The costs of this sharing include some risk from competitors and some inappropriate requests for help and information. The benefits include higher profile for our work, ease of communicating methods and results to outsiders, voluntary contributions of ideas and code from unaffiliated scientists, and good-will from the community. For my work, the benefits have enormously outweighed the costs; it might be that extreme openness is the right model when "ideas are cheap, implementations are expensive".

The author is David W. Hogg, at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, part of New York University.

On his webpage, under outreach, there is this para:

Quote
open science: Hogg's research group endeavors to make all of its algorithms, code, and data available publicly for inspection and use by members of the public and by other scientists. Much of the code is available on the web for inspection even during development. This level of openness is extremely rare, but in fact Hogg's group has found that the random scientific interactions produced by exposure on the web contribute positively to the program in unanticipated ways. Hogg also reports daily on details of his research activity in an online research diary.