It might sound cliché of me to say that the web revolutionized our world. It’s transformed the way we consume information, expanded communication, changed participation in commerce and politics, and even fueled massive social movements.
What might be less often pondered is the remarkable ways in which the web is changing science – the way it is communicated, taught and done. Public web-portals supply data on unprecedented scales. Mass communication and scientific collaboration happens instantly through online networks. Researchers gather far-reaching financial support through crowdfunding, and employ small armies of research assistants as part of citizen science projects.
We have reached an era of global change, where scientists are increasingly challenged with more complex problems on larger and larger scales. The stakes are high, but the power afforded by the web can catalyze our efforts. But when faced with a myriad of resources, where is a scientist to begin? Will we be able to harness the potential of the web fast enough to surpass the pace of global change? What setbacks might we encounter while scrambling to keep up?
I think of Science Online Seattle as a seminar course where we learn to navigate the plethora of breakthoughs happening on the web—a community of scientists all diving into this ocean together, coordinating our efforts for maximum efficiency. This is an “unconference” so there is no centralized presenter, but rather a free flowing discussion where both veterans and n00bs participate. We tackle the tough questions born of these breakthroughs, not only the what and how, but also the thorny issues and ethical implications that arise.
It’s a library of collective wisdom, the value of which surpasses anything I might find on my own.
I want you there too, dear colleague, because the more people participating in the Science Online discussion, both online and in person, the more angles, problems, opinions and ideas we can consider. The more value the discussion holds for all of us.
So I refer to the inspirational words of Seth Godin, entrepreneur and public speaker, to express why I think you should join us tonight for a discussion on our changing planet at Science Online Seattle:
“How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”
The event takes place June 13, 7:30pm at UW’s Kane Hall, with an after-party beginning 9:30 at the Deca Hotel. RSVP is requested, and the event will also be livestreamed. Follow on twitter at #soSEA. More info here.