Using the Culture in Science As Another Platform for Your Collaborative Community

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Bruce R Caron, New Media Research Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
This talk will introduce notions of culture into the discussion of collaborative communities for the Earth sciences. One often hears that the problems of cyberinfrastructure, or of science in general are “half technical and half social.” While this acknowledges that a purely technical solution is not possible, the reality is that nearly all of the funding for, and the attention and discussion about new collaborative communities is focused on technology. Recent attention to the need for governance (as opposed to management) has opened up some welcome conversations about the role of engagement in the success of collaborative communities.

The talk will present the notion that the “half-social” side of the problem is also at least half again a cultural side. After clearing up some common misperceptions on the term “culture,” the talk will explore the work of culture within science from its beginning and the availability of cultural tools to advance the vision and goals for collaborative communities in the Earth science. The emergence of organizational culture as the primary organizing feature of start-up companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere presents new opportunities to reflect on the intentional use of cultural tools to sustain engagement in support of active, open science.

Numerous critiques are now available for the cultural shortcomings of current scientific institutions, from universities, to agencies, to publishing houses. Indeed, institutional cultural factors are often seen as refractory to any intervention. The talk will present arguments that new models for intentional cultural work within emerging collaborative communities can serve to displace aspects of institutional culture that now work against the expansion of open science and shared data. Indeed, it may be that somewhat more than half of the remaining problems for open science can be solved through the use of reflexively applied intentional culture.