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Let's make science more open, more bottom-up, with easier collaboration; in the vein of open source projects.

Hi,

we'd like to invite you to the "Hacking Science" project - creating a community of people interested in (and wanting to contribute to) open science, bottom-up scientific initiatives, new ways of collaborating and sharing knowledge etc. Read below for main idea and how you can get involved.

Academia today has many downsides. Its conservatism and rigid structure often stifle creativity; usually, not much space is left for bottom-up ideas e.g. in the spirit of "open source software" community. We want to focus on creating alternative solutions (filling niches or competing with current ones) rather than trying to reform the system itself. One of our main goals is to make science more “open” and to use Internet to improve it.

Examples of projects in right flavor include:

  • arXiv and "truly open" journals,
  • Mathoverflow.org (and StackExchange Q&A sites),
  • Polymath project (research collaboration on a blog),
  • crowdsourcing and crowdfunding in science,
  • Kaggle (competitions in data science)...

All the initiatives above introduced something new and valuable to how research is done. There is likely need and room for much more!

Also, as the Elsevier boycott has shown, there is already a lot of potential to tap into. Many people want science to become more flexible and modern. As of now, however, discussions have been confined to Google+ threads or scattered across various blogs. It would be great to have a "community hub" for people interested in innovations in science, a default place to discuss and check what's new in open science, exchange ideas, find people willing to collaborate in building new tools and so on.

We think of starting with a collaborative blog - our ambition would be to make it the place to check if you're into "open science". We will welcome entries on, just to mention a few things:

  • both big ideas and small improvements
    (both brainstorming among us and crowdsourcing),
  • popularizing good tools and ways of doing things
    (software, ways of sharing knowledge),
  • constructive criticism of academia
    (going beyond the usual "this sucks but can't do anything about it"),
  • last but not least, getting our hands dirty actually implementing stuff
    (such as web services or using new ideas when organizing a conference).

If you're interested in participating:

  • what is your big idea or dream?
  • how would you like to contribute?
  • do you have a vision what should be the central point of the community
    (blog, forum, something different) and the work-/informationflow?

Any ideas and feedback will be welcome! Send them to hack-sci@googlegroups.com so you can participate in the initial discussion (or go there: https://groups.google.com/d/forum/hack-sci). :)

(If you don't want to discuss publicly yet - reply to pmigdal@gmail.com.) If you know someone else who might want to contribute, feel free to mail her/him.

Best regards,
Marcin Kotowski http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~mkotowsk/
Michał Kotowski http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~m2kotows/
Piotr Migdał http://migdal.wikidot.com/en

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