Science Network with Knowen
Science is an interlinked web of bits of knowledge, some thoroughly verified -- “textbook material”, and others less established. To take the web metaphor step further, scientists are much like spiders: they extend the web out into new directions, patch holes, and roam the web trying to sense out where the juiciest prey is.
As vivid as this image may be, a unified medium that would represent it faithfully does not exist, even though many valuable tools have emerged recently that facilitate various facets of research process.
Wikipedia has been tremendously successful in assembling and organizing established knowledge. However, it is not designed to handle more contentious material, thus, by definition, excluding the majority of current research. Besides requiring content being "verifiable," Wikipedia lacks the mechanism that would allow to effectively address scientific arguments.
Myriads of online open access journals and preprint archives (PLOS, Frontiers, arXiv.org, bioRxiv.org, Preprints, Social Science Research Network, and more) make staggering volume of current scientific content accessible in an instant; however, they lack organizational structure. Thus, one is forced to rely on search engines, such as Google Scholar or Semantic Scholar, which make their best guess as to what the user is looking for, but always leave one wondering if something important is hidden in page 2 of the search results.
Online collaboration for individual article writing has gotten easier as well. Google Docs, Office 365, ShareLaTeX, Overleaf, Authorea, and Dropbox, allow groups scattered around the world to collaborate efficiently, with the full benefits of version control and built in tools for communication between authors.
Once an article is written, it is becoming increasingly common for researchers to post in social networks such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu, LinkedIn, and even Facebook to alert their fiends and colleagues of new results. However, more often than not, it only causes a brief splash in the news stream.
Reputation and recognition are the currency of the scientific world, both intrinsically, and due to their ability to make or break scientific careers. Number of publications and citations, or invitations to professional conferences have been traditionally used as their proxy. Here too, the internet has opened up additional opportunities to publish content and to gain recognition. There are highly visible science bloggers, including Scott Aaronson, Terry Tao, Sean Carroll, who use blogs both to discuss results published through conventional channels, and to present new unpublished results. One can also build reputation by participating in the online Q&A forums, which reward both quality of the questions and the answers. Perhaps the most successful example is MathOverflow, actively used by mathematicians and physicists alike.
Now comes a question: What would a platform for research and communication look like if we were to combine the most appealing features of the above? Apart from making the life of researchers more efficient and enjoyable, it would also make the fruits of current research available for learning and inspecting by everyone who is interested, from experts to young curious minds.
Knowen is a platform that was built with this ambitious goal in mind. It allows for placing content into the right context, either by updating the existing content, or by creating new branches and sub-branches.
The global visibility can accelerate the recognition and adoption of published results, but also provides a mechanism to contribute scientific research through thoughtful comments, suggestions, or clarifications. With very little effort, one can contribute to a lasting record and develop a reputation.
Where to start:
- Create your own collaborative projects, private or public
- Include your results in existing content, providing references, if available
- Discover new research directions and like-minded colleagues
- Discuss this idea with your colleagues
- Let us know how we can improve