Saturday I participated in Sci(Bzaar)Net, an event organized by Gianandrea Giacoma (thanks Gian!) for discussing about how we can (in Italy) make use of the Internet for a better spreading, production and management of scientific knowledge.
(photo from Luca Mascaro, released under CC-BY-SA)
There were around 40 people and 15 presentations of 10 minutes each plus 10 minutes discussion and, at the end, the global brainstorming.
My presentation was titled “Science2.0 or How happy is a researcher discovering the existence of Yet Another Social Network for Science?” and I was playing the devil’s advocate on why researchers didn’t embrace in mass Web2.0 tools for their daily activity. Actually I understood I had to speak for 20 minutes so I prepared the slides accordingly but then I was told it was only 10 minutes so I had to run a lot (speaking at double pace!), the alternative could have been just to present one slide every two but I choose the “speak very very fast” strategy. You can find my presentation on slideshare or embedded here below, I would be very happy to receive feedback! It is released under CC-BY-SA so feel free to reuse it.
One thing I noticed is that there were no professors and, since we like to think big, no University rectors! So I launch a contest: the first one who convinces a rector of an Italian University to open a blog gets a weekend in Trento, hosted by me, everything included! Can you handle that? Come on, go and find the blogging rector!
I didn’t follow too much the first presentations because I was finishing mine (my bad!). The first one I was able to follow was by Federico Bo and it was a very interesting survey about how Italian universities are using Web2.0 tools: touchscreens, webtv, blog aggregators, second life, e-catalunya, moodle, podcasting, social bookmarking, … Check the presentation by Federico.
Another interesting presentation was by Paolo Guglielmoni: “Culture as a virus” claiming that viral marketing and culture are not enemies, they never were in history and they are not now. He cited Booktrailers as a creative example of this. Still, how can I make my research into a viral meme is not an easy question.
The most amazing presentation was by Folletto who is a master in making visually impressive and semantically profound presentations, this one was titled “Paralipomeni dell’Oggettivazione Sociale” (Paralipomeni of Social Objectivism) and you can see it on slideshare.
It was great to meet again Bonaria, who is becoming an expert on library2.0 and Matteo Brunati who is trying to import the innocentive model in Italy with fullout and to meet a lot of interesting people I didn’t know yet. I also met David Orban, of openspime fame, which I managed to invite for a talk in Trento, probably on June 6th.
The final brainstorming was very interesting as well. Overall I think that, at least in Italy, for changing how researchers approach Web2.0 tools some push from the top is needed. It is not enough to have a push from the bottom (normal people like me and the other ones who met in Milan for sci.bzaar.net). Of course from the bottom we can try to show the light to people on top. For example I think the European Union now asks that every funded project must have a public Web page with its own domain, possibly a blog and surely a repository of produced documents and reports. It also somehow encourages to release the software as Free Software. This is a push from the top which, I think, is going to have a much higher impact than anything the sci.bzaarers can never achieve from the bottom.
Idea I see in my notes that I need to write down somewhere: write something about “the long tail of trust”.
Last thing I want to mention is the use of a human counter for signaling the passing by of time. On the back of the room, just in front of the speaker it was projected a previously recorded very big image of
one of the guy (forgot the name!) Dario Violi with a red ball on top of it for every minute already passed. When the time limit was approaching, the face was becoming more and more sclerotic and when the 10 minutes were over, it was going totally mad and it was impossible for the speaker to keep speaking, it was too funny and disturbing. A very clever way to keep speaker in their time slot! I need to use it if/when I organize a conference!
And thanks again Gian for organizing a great event!