A “Web2.0 for Scientists Week”: signup-fest ?

So, here is my half-baked idea:

Why not have a special week where new online collaboration tools are promoted to scientists globally ?Silly logo Web2.0 for a Signupfest

Similar to the way local Linux user groups sometimes run “installfests” to install Linux for users, (just to get them over the initial interia), why not have a global “signup-fest” for the core set of online tools useful for scientific collaboration ? In each local area / University / Institute, a few Web2.0 savvy scientists could promote the event and hand-hold new users through the signup process, and help with basic usage and integration of tools. Ideally, lab groups could signup together in the same room, and make an event of it. Or in places with Wifi … a “bring your laptop” signup lunchtime event. I think you get the idea.

To create buzz, I expect there should be an impressive opening talk about why these new ways of communicating matter, and how they will help scientists do their jobs better. A listing of other places where “signup-fests” where happening during the talk could encourage scientists to get involved (peer pressure helps 🙂 ). In places where someone cannot speak, the local “evangelist” could host a screening of the online video in a lecture theatre, then host the Q&A.

Working some prizes into the overall event, while a being little “carrot on stick”-y, could also help spark some initial interest and get people looking at flyers.

The week could culminate with all the “signup-fest” scientists from around the world meeting each other: maybe in a “Web2.0 for Science Week” FriendFeed room. Maybe encouraging everyone to make and answer at least one “Dear LazyWeb” request would help scientists that are new to these tools to connect and collaborate.

What would be the “core set” of web applications ? This could be contentious; among others I like FriendFeed, Twitter, Google Reader, CiteULike, del.icio.us and RSS/ATOM feeds generally. Honestly I think that for a “signup-fest” chosing the best established services in each space that work well together is the way to go. Too many options will just confuse new users and negate the whole intention of the event. While I understand that this is brutal to the various competitors, the other options can be listed as footnotes – scientists that are keen will check them out anyway and decide for themselves.

Finally: Is the movement toward global, online collaboration for scientists too early for something like this (ie Are the tools ready) ? Is “pushing the issue” slightly as opposed to relying on organic adoption a bad idea ?

2 thoughts on “A “Web2.0 for Scientists Week”: signup-fest ?

  1. Footnote, to clarify the goals: as much as I love the idea of Open Science, Open Data, Open *, as many others have noted, in the current culture and enviroment it can be too much of a hard sell for most scientists. Since Open Science evangelism could potentially turn users off and confuse the goals, I would restrict the “Web2.0 for Scientists Week” purely to getting people using tools and communicating globally … my hope is that openness can naturally flow from this later. My rationale behind this is also that the current ‘closed’ culture is in part due to the fact that traditional scientific communication channels make being “Open” more effort than being “closed”; new online tools, like Twitter and FriendFeed make being “Open” about as easy, if not easier, than being “closed”. The path of least resistance should lead to more scientists to practice Open Science once they are using tools that facilitate it.

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