Citizen science, online tools and open data point the way to a new way of organising the scientific community, but how are these collaborations to be governed, and how should scientists relate to the wider community?
Two recent books, by Nielson and Brooks, discuss how networked science might reflect the reality of the scientific enterprise. I review them in the attached article from the current edition of the Aspect Group of Prospect magazine (Aspect is the UK organization of school improvement professionals).
Nielson shows that four patterns characterise open source collaborations that scale: they make a relentless commitment to working in a modular way, encourage small contributions to reduce barriers to entry, allow easy reuse of earlier work by other people, and use signaling mechanisms, such as citation indices or scores, to help people decide where to direct their attention. The fundamental requirement that must be met is that participants must share a body of knowledge or techniques, such as that found in mathematics, programming or chess.