I remember thinking over a decade ago how valuable it would be if researchers kept open notebooks (aka digital commonplace books) like the one Kimberly Hirsh outlines in her article I’d give my right arm to have a dozen people in research areas I’m interested in doing this very thing! .
The best I could hope for back in 2008, and part of why I created the @JohnsHopkins Twitter handle, was that researchers would discover Twitter and be doing the types of things that some of the Johns Hopkins professors outlined in this recent article are now finally doing. It seems sad that it has taken over a decade and this article is really only highlighting the bleeding edge of the broader academic scene now. While what they’re doing is a great start, I think they really aren’t going far enough. They aren’t doing their audiences as much service as they could because there’s only so much that Twitter allows in terms of depth of ideas and expressiveness. It would be far better if they were doing this sort of work from their own websites and more directly interacting with their colleagues on the open web. The only value that Twitter is giving them is a veneer of reach to a broader audience, but they’re also opening themselves up to bigger attacks as is described in the article.
In addition to Kimberly’s example, another related area of potential innovation would be moving the journal clubs run by many research groups and labs online and opening them up. Want to open up science? Then let’s really do it! By bookmarking a variety of articles on their own websites, various members could be aggregated to contribute to a larger group, which could then use their own websites with protocols like Webmention or even simple tools like Hypothes.is to guide and participate in larger online conversations to move science communication along at an even faster pace. Greg McVerry and I have experimented in taking some of these tools into the classroom in the past.
If you think about it, arXiv and other preprint servers are really just journal clubs writ large. The problem is that they’re only communicating in one direction by aggregating the initial content, but they’re dramatically failing their audiences in that they aren’t facilitating or aggregating any open discussion around that content. As a result, the largest portion of their true value is still locked away in the individual brains of their readers rather than as commentary or even sentence level highlights and annotations on particular pieces out in the open. Often is the time that I’ll tweet about an interesting article only to receive a (lucky) reply that the results have been debunked, yet that information is almost never disclosed in or around the journal article (especially online) where it certainly belongs. Academic publishers are not only gouging us financially by siloing their content, they’re failing us far worse than most realize.
Another idea: Can’t get a journal of negative results to publish your latest research failure? Why not post a note or article on your own website to help out future researchers? (or even demonstrate to your students that not everything always works out?)
Naturally having aggregation services like indieweb.xyz, building planets, using OPML subscriptions, or the coming wave of feed readers could make a lot of these things easier, but we’re already right on the cusp for people who are willing to take a shot for doing this type of research online on their own websites and out in the open.
Want to try out some of the above? I’m happy to help (gratis) researchers who’d like to experiment in the area to get themselves set up. Just send me a note or give me a call.
Let’s eliminate money problems from the admissions equation for qualified students.
God bless you Michael Bloomberg for putting your money where your
mouth heart is. We could use more serious leadership and thought like this in the world.
Today, 122 Hopkins faculty, post-docs, and grad students make a call to promote welcoming environments for women at machine learning conferences. In recognition of egregious behavior at recent conf…
Also known as Tottle and Stutter. But the real name was Tudor and Stuart: The Tudor and Stuart Club.
The Tudor and Stuart Club was a literary society at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore – yes, they insist upon that “the” before “Johns” – and I was the club secretary for several years back in the late 1960s and 1970s. I don’t know just how that honor came to me. But I’d taken many literature courses as an undergraduate, half of them or so with (the now legendary) Richard Macksey and the others with members of the English Department: Earl Wasserman, Donald Howard, D. C. Allen, and J. Hillis Miller. They must have decided that I had a future as a literary critic and so deserved this honor, though, naturally, it came trailing a few pedestrian duties. I was pleased. I’m pretty sure it was Dick Macksey who told me.
This seems like a solid story from the late 60’s/early 70’s for inclusion into the pantheon at Hopkins Retrospective.
Gary Posner, best known for pioneering research in organocopper chemistry, joined JHU faculty in 1969
I should know better about searching for obituaries. After hearing about Murray Sach’s passing I’ve just discovered that one of my organic chemistry professors has recently died as well.
I remember Dr. Posner well for his pointed use of the Socratic method, and in particular the day that my chemistry-related sir name caught his eye. I think he always expected that I would have been born a chemistry genius because of the name Aldrich. His expectations did make my orgo studies all the more fraught and worthwhile however.
I will point out in my day that the reaction that carried his name was ordered as the Corey-Posner-Whitesides-House reaction and not in the lesser order mentioned in the article.
Murray Sachs, of Arlington, MA, formerly of Baltimore, MD, on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Beloved husband of the late Merle (Diener) Sachs. Devoted father of Benjamin Sachs & his wife Lisa, and Jonathan Sachs & his wife Kate. Loving grandfather of Talia, Aviva, Zoe, Zander, Jonah, and Miriam. Loving uncle of Nancy Colier and Steven Shainberg.
Murray was a renowned scientist who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from MIT (B.S. ’62, M.S. ‘64, Ph.D. ‘66). He worked in the field of biomedical engineering, in particular using mathematics to model the way sound is received, transmitted, encoded, and comprehended between the ear and the brain, laying groundwork for advances such as the cochlear implant. He served as the Director of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Johns Hopkins University. Murray was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering for his scientific contributions and his leadership in biomedical engineering education. Murray is remembered as having a gentle soul, and as being a calm leader and generous mentor. He was a loving husband, beloved father, doting grandfather, and a deeply devoted colleague and friend. He will be profoundly missed.
Services at Temple Beth Avodah, 45 Puddingstone Lane, Newton, MA on Monday, March 5 at 2pm.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Saddened to hear about the passing of one of my college professors and a lion in the field of biomedical engineering. I’ve heard that there are forthcoming obituaries in the JHU Hub as well as the Baltimore Sun.
h/t to Guy Shechter for passing along the news