Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Will the future of science look like the future of journalism?

Jeff Jarvis spends a lot of time thinking about what journalism is going to look like now that the barriers to daily publishing have essentially vanished. Today he quotes Jay Rosen about how journalism schools ought to change their missions to embrace the larger group of people who report:

I used to teach it implicitly: journalism is a profession. Now I think it's a practice, in which pros and amateurs both participate. There were good things about the professional model, and we should retain them. But it'’s the strength of the social practice that counts, not the health of any so-called profession. That is what J-schools should teach and stand for, I believe. I don'’t care if they'’re called professional schools. They should equip the American people to practice journalism by teaching the students who show up, and others out there who may want help.

I keep looking for ways to introduce science methods and thinking to a more general public. The ongoing flap about intelligent design gives this sentiment some urgency. Not only would better explanation do some gohoweververI do think very well-informed people retain opposite views) , but I also think that genuine participation-- doing research-- would also diffuse ownership of the process, to everyone's discomfort, and ultimate benefit! What I cannot see is the equivalent to blogging, or online publishing, in terms of doing science. The basic sciences still involve quite a lot of infrastructure, which means money, which by itself guarantees an ivory tower.


UPDATE: See Coturnix for what other scientist bloggers are saying. Also, I guess I should say that the same reductions in cost of information exchange which are upending journalism already greatly enhance what I can do with this blog. Not science, but communication of science, even by non-specialists, is already happening at the plane I'd envision.

UPDATE#2: The Washington Post is reporting a clinical trial with extensive internet usage. They used the internet at every stage, from patient recruitment to data collection. In this case the patients reported anxiety levels via computer-- you would not want to try a administer a blood pressure drug trial like this.

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