Interactive Science

How the internet affects the science-community – ITA-book: Cyberscience 2.0

Twitter, Wikipedia & Co. have shaken up the way scientific research is being conducted. The project Interactive Science analyses new ways for internal science communication via digital media. The main output of ITA's involvement is the book Cyberscience 2.0.

The Internet changes the field of scientific research and its results substantially. Scientists use Blogs and Twitter, they cooperate in specialised digital networks and use Wikipedia. At the same time, internet giants like Google invade the academic world. “Interactive Sciences” analysed these topical developments and their impacts on the work of scientists.

E-mail, web portals, digital presentations, electronic newsletters, discussion forums, digital libraries and repositories, more recently weblogs and collaborative formats of text production (‘Wikis’), are routinely used by scientists today. The New Media affect all stages of the process of knowledge management – from the generation and primary distribution to the processing, publication and storage of scientific knowledge.

Interactivity and its potentials for scientific research

The collaborative research network Interactive Science, of which the ITA was a member, sheds some light on this phenomenon by combining perspectives from linguistics, media studies, information science, sociology, the history of science and drama studies:

  • Collaborative knowledge management and democratisation of academia
  • Academic presentations – Textuality, structure and reception
  • The academic speech and its digital documentation and distribution
  • Scientific information, critique and controversy in digital media

ITA contributed to the first part and analysed on the basis of five case studies the impact of tools of the Web 2.0 on science. The five case studies that formed the basis for this analysis were the virtual world Second Life, Wikipedia, Wikibooks and Wikiversity, microblogging sites such as Twitter, social network sites such as Facebook, as well as Google, Google Books and Google Scholar.

It turned out that these Web 2.0 platforms supply important needs of academia, for instance fast information and uncomplicated networking. Partly they are used intensively, but the potential is not fully tapped as yet. One factor possibly slowing down the use of social media is the phenomenon of multiple channels, that is the fact that one currently reaches all communication partners only by attending many networks in parallel.

Cyberscience 2.0: Research in the Age of Digital Social Networks – Michael Nentwich, Rene Konig (Campus Verlag 2012)
06/2008 - 05/2011