Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The New Culture of Collaboration

Nice piece in Nature about the rise of collaborative Web efforts in science, with special focus on Tim Gowers' ongoing Polymath Project (started as an experimental project in 2009):
"Gowers' online challenge was a radical suggestion for mathematics — a field that is often viewed as the domain of lonely, secretive figures who work for years in isolation. And it went against the grain of the wider academic culture, which tends to encourage researchers to share their ideas only by publishing them."
The article points out that there are now some commercial or incentivized collaborative projects as a way to increase participation, with even the Government getting involved:

Business, mass education, and social media (and porn!) may be among the Web's most dominant uses, but I've long thought that truly the most ideal and promising use of the Internet would come in the form of scientific collaboration… the hive-mind solving problems, one-after-another, in a fraction of the time formerly required, leading to an exponential growth of knowledge/progress previously inconceivable. We've barely just begun... kudos to Gowers, Terence Tao, and others at the forefront.

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