January 24, 2008 |
Too often the scientific community slaves away at solutions to the world's puzzles and problems in near obscurity. Frequently isolated and limited to esoteric academic journals and trade publications, mass amounts of scientific discovery and research never reach the public's eyes. SciVee aims to change all that.
This Web 2.0 application comes fast on the heels of other attempts to make science more accessible and share more knowledge by organizations like the NIH, a recent convert to open access. In fact, without shared technology and the advent of the Web 2.0 age, we may not have reached breakthroughs like the recent stem cell research innovation that allows lab workers to create stem cells from skin, not embryos.
Shared knowledge and open access to research is essential in this ever shrinking global world. No longer can we assume that what someone is learning as far away as China or Australia has nothing to do with research closer to home. In fact, it is shared research and science from all parts of the world that is making possible cures and treatments for major diseases and solutions to global problems like climate change.
SciVee takes the concept of open access to science and research and adds an interface that is fun and easy on the eyes, with the social element of community. Various communities evolve on SciVee around each element – videos (called pubcasts), papers and publications, research labs, organizations, school districts and individual people. In addition to evolving and dynamic communities around research shared on SciVee, users can join and create groups that are based on topics, organizations and other criteria. You can also create and browse SciVee by channel (topics) and tag cloud (key words).
SciVee has gone out of its way to make science accessible to everyone while retaining integrity. It allows users a variety of ways to share their research. Users can upload videos (pubcasts) and publications and associate them together (or keep them separate). The pubcast associated with the publication is often a visual interpretation of the publication's abstract, a short hand way to determine if you'd like to read the full publication that also allows you to get to know the publications author and style. The pubcasts make science personal and remove many of the hierarchy and boundaries normally associated with the scientific community.
By allowing users to comment and communicate about the pubcasts and publications provided by scientists, SciVee also positions itself as a learning tool for the classroom. Students of all ages can join SciVee and learn through direct participation, instead of trying to absorb complex research in a dry classroom setting. It makes cutting edge research more accessible from a young age, and may have the added bonus of encouraging more students to concentrate on science and technology as their chosen profession.
When I first read about SciVee and saw its tag line, “SciVee is about the free and widespread dissemination and comprehension of science.
Created for scientists, by scientists, SciVee moves science beyond the printed word and lecture theater taking advantage of the internet as a communication medium where scientists young and old have a place and a voice.” I must admit I balked at something created by scientists for scientists. I admit my prejudice was to assume it would be hard to use and harder to understand. I was happy to see how engaging and user friendly the site as a whole is.
Obviously, since I am not a scientist I could not complete and upload to the pubcast service, but a quick run through of the steps makes it seems straightforward and easy enough. I'd be interested to know from someone who has completed a video upload if there is any lag time, but my guess would be that there isn't, judging by the video playback on the rest of the site. The information is easy to find, and is sorted and referenced in a variety of ways to accommodate the way multiple people may think to look for a topic.
SciVee received its seed money and other assistance from the Public Library of Science, the National Science Foundation and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. Its founders are Philip E Bourne, PhD (shown in the video below) and Leo M Chalupa, PhD. I think the partner organizations are going to find this was money well spent. I for one am quite excited about the idea of open access to scientific research and the many benefits it can afford so many, and am quite pleased with this innovative Web 2.0 application of the idea. I think SciVee will become a go-to site for educators, scientists and lay people alike.
If the above embedded movie does not show for you, try this link instead .