Towards a Social Science of Web 2.0 (VIII): Research 2.0 (II)

Graham Lewis & Darren Reed
Science Blogs: Experimenting with practice and performance

What are science blogs?
Do they perform any science?
Or is it just science communication?
Or just merely personal diaries?

What are methodological and theoretical challenges for social science analysis

Partial immortalization blog, RealClimate.org

Mertonian norms or ideals (Merton (1954) The Normative Structure of Science

  • communism (communalism)
  • universalism
  • disinterestednesses
  • organised scepticism

Science in the real world

  • messy and complex
  • competitive
  • publish, prestige, tenured positions
  • funding
  • intellectual property

Scale of science blogging: 4% of the total (tagged “science” and found in Technorati)
ScienceBlogs.com

Nature Network, SciVee, LabAction, Second Life / Nature Island / Drexel University

Bora Zivkovic (2006) The Open Laboratory

Most of scientific bloggers define themselves or their blog as scientists writing (whatever they write), and just a few of them state that they’ll be publishing content, findings, data, etc.

Useful Chemistry / Useful Chemistry Wiki, being the wiki the place where scientists put up practices and describe procedures (e.g. to repeat an experiment).

Evidence suggests little science practice.
Blogging slowly moving from ‘fringe activity’ for scientists?
Web 2.0 as policy-making tool.
Are ‘science blogs’ really anything new?

More scientific communication than science blogs.

My comments
  • I guess we should clarify some concepts and state the differences between science, scholar, academic and research blogs, for instance. While research is part of academic or faculty activity, teaching and diffusion are too, so we shouldn’t forget the these two activites also are or should be or could be part of the concept / activity of scholarly blogs. Darren Reed agrees, stating that it is a new (thrilling) area to explore, but that the “research” part is the most interesting as there’s the need to separate data, evidence from opinion, speculation… and some so-called research blogs are not that honest… and this has all but added to the common believe that blogs (in general, not just scientific) are frivolous literature.

Nicholas Hookway
Entering the Blogosphere; Some strategies for Using Blogs in Social research

What blogs can offer social scientists? Adding it into the researcher toolkit.

So far, the predominant blog genre is the personal diary-style blog (or life-log).

Differences of academic blogging from diary-style

  • Impression management
  • The presentation of self in everyday life (Goffman)
  • A paradox between visibility and invisibility

What about trustiness? Can they be identity playing?

Blogs are instantaneous, publicly available and low-cost tools for gathering data. Good for collecting sensitive information and ‘ever-changing’ present. A way of figuring ‘the everyday’ without the intrusion of a researcher.

Enric Senabre Hidalgo
Stigmergy, meritocracy and vandalism in peer-production: how can wikis grow

Wikis: open, observable, easy, organic, overt, secure, tolerant, discussed.

Similarities to open source software

  • human language = code = software
  • wiki pages = program modules
  • more transparency implies more security
  • every change is saved and revisable
  • each content has its own discussion, often bigger than the content itself
  • improvement loops, parallel tools

In wikis, users are gathering around content, while in blogging is content that gathers around a blog (content in the center of contributers vs. the blogger in the center of content)

Collaboration by stigmergy: communication through signs left in the environment.

Wikis as a way of appropriating content; more content, more traffic, more edits, more content, more traffic, more edits… And quality increasing due to more edits.

Task distribution/specialization of work

  • content: writing, translating, editing typos
  • technical: tools, bots
  • social: welcoming, mediating, helping, guiding

Organic generation of rules. The constance presence of vandalism, due to extreme opennes. But there’s a continuous redefinition of vandalism, needs for new rules, etc.

Adaptive online identity and content driven reputation = you are what you do (edit, comment, help, repair) within the system, which implies trust and proven experience enabling you to participate in different levels.

My comments
  • More edits mean more quality, but this is because errors are detected or because of increments of content?

Both open source development and Wikipedia require free time, cheap equipments and communications, and breaking large and complex tasks into small and independent modules.

Camille Roth
Viable Wikis

State of the wikisphere and processes of viability.

In general, there’s technological and functional regularity across platforms and established/running wikis, though there’s organizational variety:

  • scope: “defining” the wiki, the language (and its implications on the geographical distribution of this language and the natural selection of contributors)
  • policies: “neutral point of view”, historical, evolution of wiki rules through policy pages
  • technical policies (eventually): who can contribute, how is interaction and social identity defined, new technological features

Wikis are a group of users, possibly becoming an active community — population dynamics: recruitment, retention, exclusion/leave
Wikis are a group of pages, possibly becoming esteemed content — content dynamics: growth, stabilization, quality articles

Population dynamics

  • Bootstraping period: centralized set of initial norms, first incentive landscape
  • User incentives: altruistic, “socially concerned”, selfish
  • Enrollment, leadership: explicit role distribution, implicit role distribution (quantitative differences, informal authority)

Two development regimes of growth: after bootstrapping, there is a phase of recruitment of many other users that is essentially different, qualitatively and quantitatively.

Towards a Social Science of Web 2.0 related posts (2007)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2007) “Towards a Social Science of Web 2.0 (VIII): Research 2.0 (II)” In ICTlogy, #48, September 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=622

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