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The New e-Science (Bangalore Edition)

by Professor of e-Research at University of Oxford on Dec 12, 2007


Keynote talk at IEEE e-Science Conference, Bangalore, December 2007 (the original Powerpoint 2007 version is available on

Keynote talk at IEEE e-Science Conference, Bangalore, December 2007 (the original Powerpoint 2007 version is available on



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  • guest16242a8 Vaniqa is the place to resolve the price problem. Buy now and make a deal for you. 4 years ago
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  • dder David De Roure, Professor of e-Research at University of Oxford Hi

    I agree that it isn't just the publishing cycle that motivates scientists - there are incentive models which vary from discipline to discipline (and even within disciplines). This is why in myExperiment we focused on attribution, and the question as to whether scientists will (like teenagers) share enough to generate network effects is what I often describe as 'the experiment that is myExperiment' (we have some confidence in this through Openwetware). The myExperiment project has social scientists on board for this very reason. We sometimes say 'scientists collaborate to compete' and in some fields - like drug discovery - it's 'first past the post' that matters. We also have instances of groups being created which then share data within them, and others of individuals creating data which they then gradually expose to more people as needed, building the group around the data. Some communities have a strong notion of hierarchy. So, lots of variations. Meanwhile Openwetware demonstrates a degree of sharing which many find surprising, and shows how behaviour changes in the digital context. We believe the only way to find out is to try it!

    Good point about where to draw the line between electronic enabled science and everyday science - when does science become e-Science? Maybe this is like asking when does learning become e-learning. I am happy to raise this discussion and invite suggestions from the community! I wonder if the answer is in terms of technologies or practice? Yes, a definition might help to scope and focus the community. BTW Bringing e-science through e.g. Microsoft office tools is an area of current work in a number of groups, for example the Microsoft eChemistry project.

    The 'Grid Problem' slide deliberately over-generalises by saying 'Grid is...'. More cautiously I could say 'users perceive that in many deployed grid solutions...' I did this to attract attention from the Grid community to my message. Even though there are many good research efforts which go some way to addressing some of the issues I describe, it is not the case that these are deployed and available to users today. So (a) I very strongly encourage the excellent work of everyone who is working hard addressing these issues, and (b) I am suggesting that 'building up' from the infrastructure to the users is one methodology, but looking at it from a user (and ecosystem) perspective too will help a lot - that's my message. The Grid community does not traditionally take this approach, which is why I am provoking attention to it.

    I agree OGSA-DAI is a simple API for access to data, and I have seen good examples of it being used to 'grid-enable' datasets. If people have good examples of mashups using it I would be interested to know about them. And we are in a mixed world - in one project I have seen grid being used to collect and processs data and then Web 2.0 technologies used for ease of access to it by scientists (the lifecycle again).

    I totally agree that there are very many different types of users. The Web 2.0 methodology is one way of tackling exactly this. One of the points of the talk is to say that Web 2.0 is actually more than a set of technologies - it's a set of design patterns which transcend the immediate discussion and really say something about the relationship between technology and society as things become increasingly digital - these patterns underly the talk. I also agree with you that 'participation' (both in content and development) is not unique to Web 2.0 - in fact Web 1.0 took off for exactly that reason (we didn't all download xmosaic and access one server, we also downloaded httpd and became publishers - the network effect).

    Many thanks for your support for the vision and your constructive comments.

    -- Dave<br /><br/>
    6 years ago
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  • Teeli Omer Rana at Cardiff University This is a really interesting presentation that puts eScience in the context of the wider scientific/publishing cycle. It is, however, questionable whether the publishing cycle is the 'only' thing that motivates scientists. For instance, in many cases, a scientist would not be interested in sharing their results until they win a prize (monetary or through recognition) of their results. Being able to just support collaboration, as part of the scientific process, is therefore only one aspect of a much bigger story.

    Certainly a powerful message, that eScience should be about 'empowering' everyday people doing science, rather than constrain it to a limited set of people. If this is the view taken, certainly a more interesting one, it would also be prudent perhaps to consider the development of specialist tools such as mail readers etc -- tools that all scientists require. Having this view of eScience surely gives it a more wider perspective -- and a question would be where (or should one) draw a line between electronic enabled science, and everyday laboratory based science that scientists undertake? Sure, to survive as a community, eScience needs focus?

    The comments on limitations of Grid computing is not accurate. There are now a number of APIs available that support data management -- such as OGSA-DAI. Similarly, a number of projects developing collaboratories and Problem Solving Environment have attempted to focus on the scientist in the past (to limited degrees of success). I guess one of the issues here is that different scientists have different agendas, and it is not as simple to identify the requirements that any one particular scientist (or scientific group) may have. For instance, some scientists may want tools that enable them to do better programming, whilst others require something that is graphical and enable easy interaction with some back end system. It is therefore hard to say what scientists really want, and trying to achieve one type of characterisation may be a limited view?

    On a related note, Web 2.0 is just a collection of technologies. The emphasis on the social theme that many Web 2.0 technologies advocate is certainly not a feature of Web 2.0 only, many vendors such as Yahoo groups, Google groups, etc were trying to do this for many years. The ability to use technologies such as AJAX, JSON etc could help do some of this quicker, but ultimately, the message regarding collaborative development and communities has not changed much.

    I think what you advocate is certainly an important vision for science. The ability to look at the wider scientific process is certainly an important undertaking. It is not clear whether the particular motivation for scientist that you advocate is the only one. Similarly, Grid computing is really a collection of infrastructure technologies after all -- and the limitations on slide 18 is rather limited. Many of these constraints do not hold any more -- as people continue to evolve their infrastructure and add addtional capabilities to their tools.<br /><br/>
    6 years ago
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  • dder David De Roure, Professor of e-Research at University of Oxford The talk was videoed at the conference but I don't know if it will be made available - however I'm going to put a text summary on (which is also where you can download the original PowerPoint 2007 version of these slides - they seem to have experienced one or two font problems somewhere in the pipeline through PowerPoint 97-2003 to slideshare...)<br /><br/> 6 years ago
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  • dullhunk Duncan Hull, Citizen Scientist at University of Manchester Slideshare empowers people too, even big Professors :)<br /><br/> 6 years ago
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