SciTalks

I learned from Jonathan Shock and Sara Tompson about SciTalks. In Jonathan’s words (from a comment on another post):

There’s now a site where people can link to, review and rate scientific videos online. This is a great step as there are so many wonderful lectures online but currently they’re spread all over the web and it’s always hard to tell the quality and level that a lecture is going to be.

Jonathan has also done posts about online resources in theoretical high energy physics, including a recent one where he discussed SciTalks a bit more.

jennifer goldbeck on the semantic webThis got me thinking a bit about where we are going with all these resources, how useful they are, and -very importantly- how easy it all is to find, and then to search through. (Imagine there are 10 hour long talks broadly on your favourite topic. Assuming there are no accompanying files, how can you search them to find a specific fact that they might mention, without sitting through ten hours worth of material?) Well, ironically, one of the first things that caught my eye on SciTalks was a rather nice talk by Jennifer Golbeck (given at FermiLab last year) entitled “Social Networks, the Semantic Web, and the Future of Online Scientific Collaboration”. She’s quite interesting about this very topic… She describes online collaboration, data sharing, social networks, etc, all in the context of helping us do science (not just physics by the way!). She also illustrates her subject matter -still staying on topic- using examples of data sets from Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, and other sites. Interestingly, she also talks a little about the mathematics of social networks, starting the famous “six degrees of separation” stuff of Milgram’s and plunging deeper from there, focusing on the idea of “trust” in this context – important in sharing information in a scientific (or other) context. See this site for more.

Well, until the fully functional Semantic Web comes to pass (largely a matter of organising data better than we are – no new technology needed), SciTalks currently certainly seems like a good place to use to highlight existing material, so go along and put some links to resources up there!

-cvj

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