Polymath Project and Google Wave: open-source science

Two examples of open-source science are the subject of Opinion articles in this week’s Nature. In the first of these, Timothy Gowers and Michael Nielsen describe their ‘Polymath Project’, which showed that many minds can work together to solve difficult mathematical problems, and reflect on the lessons learned for open-source science (Nature 461, 879-881; 2009). In the other article, Cameron Neylon says that Google Wave is the kind of open-source online collaboration tool that should drive scientists to wire their research and publications into an interactive data web (Nature 461, 881; 2009).

“Solving the current problems in science communication requires the intervention of strong companies such as Google”, he writes. “But it will take more than technical advances to provoke scientists into taking full advantage of the web. We need pressure, and perhaps compulsion, from journals and funders to raise publishing standards to the new level made possible by such tools. Google Wave may not be, indeed is probably not, the whole answer. But it points the way to tools that build records and reproducibility into every step. And that has to be good for science.”

Both these articles are free to read online for one week from the publication date (15 October).


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