Two areas that are have made interesting (to me) use of the internet are data gathering and results publication.
When you stop & think about it, an awful lot of data acquisition obtained during scientific inquiry is mediated by technology. While googling around I came across a number of examples of remote science conducted using telescopes, microscopes, etc. but what fascinated me most was the rather understated use of the lowly webcam for data gathering & collaboration. These UBC Pharmacy students, for example, were able to access some sophisticated special equipment at Western Washington University to conduct experiments; webcams provided interaction with the technicians at WWU. Grade 7 students at Branksome School used a webcam to gather round-the-clock data about some fish they were studying. And webcams are routinely used for telemedicine & to gather data in severe environments.
Has anyone out there in SCoPE used a webcam for a scientific activity of any kind? or do you know of anyone who has?
This post is already too long --I'll leave the topic of technology-mediated results publication to a later post.
One example I can think of that seems to fit with your interest in use of the Internet for data gathering and results publication is the VENUS project http://www.venus.uvic.ca/
VENUS is a fibre optic cabled ocean observatory designed as an undersea laboratory for ocean researchers. On their website, you can examine their research and see live ocean data. The project makes use of a camera http://venus.uvic.ca/facility/instruments/cmap.php to take still and video images of activity on the ocean floor. OK its a bit more sophisticated than a basic webcam but the concept is the same.
Research in the field of medicine -- a specialized field of science -- is affected in the same way. The online journal Open Medicine, points out some serious implications of this approach:
The Public Library of Science (PLoS) takes advantage of the unique affordances of the internet and Creative Commons licencing (which Paul has referred to in the discussion about science learning objects and copyright issues). It enables scientists to share their research more quickly, at less expense, and to a much wider, more international audience than ever before.
Do you think that the open sharing of research is an ethic that our science students should be learning? (my view on this topic is obvious!)
I absolutely thing that open sharing of science research is something students should be learning. Not sure if you're aware of it but I've been impressed by the work of John Willinsky at UBC and his Public Knowledge Project for the way it support open research. http://pkp.sfu.ca/
Harvard University is taking this one step further by making open access publication a REQUIREMENT. While surfing around I stumbled upon this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here are some snippets:
Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted a policy this evening that requires faculty members to allow the university to make their scholarly articles available free online.
... the new policy makes Harvard the first university in the United States to mandate open access to its faculty members’ research publications.
...The new policy will allow faculty members to request a waiver, but otherwise they must provide an electronic form of each article to the provost’s office, which will place it in an online repository.
For anybody with an interest in the repercussions of open publishing, it's especially interesting to read the comments which follow the article!