Social Media and the Production of Knowledge: A Return to Little Science?

Social Epistemology 24 (3):219-237 (2010)

In the classic study Little science, big science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963), Derek Price traces the historical shift from what he calls little science?exemplified by early?modern ?invisible colleges? of scientific amateurs and enthusiasts engaged in small?scale, informal interactions and personal correspondence?to 20th?century big science, dominated by professional scientists and wealthy institutions, where scientific information (primarily in print form and its analogues) was mass?produced, marketed and circulated on a global scale. This article considers whether the growing use of more participatory, interactive ?Web 2.0? technologies and social media in science today (e.g. wikis, blogs, tagging and bookmarking, conferencing, etc.) may signal a revival of little science modes of communication that contrast with big science conventions that continue to dominate research policy, scientific institutions, and the publishing industry. A brief historical review of responses to the scientific ?information explosion? since the early 1900s is presented, with a particular focus on the idealization of large?scale, automated information systems and the privileging of formal (document?producing) over informal (interpersonal) modes of scientific communication. Alternative frameworks for scientific communication that incorporate both documents and interaction are used to examine contemporary examples of so?called Science 2.0 and citizen science projects to determine whether such projects indicate the emergence of new modes of communication in science that bridge the immediacy and involvement of invisible colleges and the rigor of peer?reviewed publishing. The implications for traditional documentary forms such as the journal article are also discussed
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DOI 10.1080/02691728.2010.499177
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Commons-Based Peer Production and Virtue.Yochai Benkler & Helen Nissenbaum - 2006 - Journal of Political Philosophy 14 (4):394–419.
The Science of Describing. Natural History in Renaissance Europe.Brian W. Ogilvie - 2007 - Journal of the History of Biology 40 (1):190-193.

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Trusting the Media? TV News as a Source of Knowledge.Nicola Mößner - 2018 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 26 (2):205-220.

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