Internet facilitates virtual collaborations, pack science

from the good-news,-bad-news dept.
Two recent items indicate some of the effects the Internet is having on scientific research:
A study by University of Michigan researcher Stephanie Teasley describes the use of technology that allows distributed collaboration via a "collaboratory" — a virtual center where people in different locations work together as easily as if they were all in the same place — is gaining appeal in science and education, as well as business and industry. Teasley and her co-workers report on some of the benefits and opportunities collaboratories offer, as well as the stumbling blocks associated with a distributed problem solving environment, in the 29 June 2001 issue of Science. An article in the New York Times ("Inside the Virtual Laboratory, Ideas Percolate Faster Than Rivalries", by I. Austen, 5 July 2001) provides additional coverage.
Another item in the the NY Times ("The Web as Dictator of Scientific Fashion", by J. Glanz, 19 June 2001) indicates the Web and cheap satellite communications may be fostering a sort of "pack science." The article notes that "instead of fostering many independent approaches to cracking problems, the Web, by offering scientists a place to post their new results immediately, can create a global bandwagon in which once-isolated scientists rush to become part of the latest trend . . . In the resulting stampede, all but a few promising avenues are quickly abandoned.î

Note: Access to the NYT website is free, but may require registration.

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