About information, and science today
I read an interesting interview in Salon this weekend entitled, “Are We on Information Overload?”
Like so many today, the author being interviewed (David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, who has just published Too Big to Know) questions the changes in learning over the last 10-100 years and contemplates how our inventions are changing us – even the way we think. The discussion is pretty standard until Weinberger is asked about Darwin and the claim that his science would be done very differently today:
[Darwin] was so reluctant to write; he remained relatively private about his theory for decades and published only when somebody else, Wallace, was on the verge of beating him to it…. Darwin today would not be operating this way. He would very likely be tweeting from the Beagle. He would be announcing his findings and initial ideas online, and people would be arguing with him all along, taking his ideas, applying them elsewhere, pushing back, criticizing him deeply — all of the things we do on the Web. That work has revolutionary, incredible value, but put into the Web, it gets teased out, amplified, corrected, as well as misunderstood and degraded. Nevertheless, that Web itself has more value than the individual content, so I would expect that Darwin today would be gathering his data from clouds of linked data, trying out ideas on the Web, and drawing those ideas in the tussle. The old rhythm of knowledge and science not coincidentally is the rhythm of publishing. The Web has completely broken that rhythm.
This surprises me. Does it surprise you? Has your way of doing science changed in the past decade (other than the typical maturation path)?
Why or why not?