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What can Mozilla do for science?

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Open_Science_LogoIn the past few weeks I've shared a few examples of how science is gradually opening up.  We've had the likes of Harvard using crowdsourcing methods in their research into diabetes.  In a similar vein was PCORI project from Michigan, that aims to get patients involved in the medical research process more than they currently do in their role as pharmaceutical guinea pigs.  Or you've got the German based social network for scientists to hang out on and collaborate on projects.

Whilst the bulk of the science done around the world remains very much in the old school, these kind of efforts do represent an interesting shift.  Adding their considerable grist to the mill in the past few days has been Mozilla.

They've announced the launch of the Mozilla Science Lab.  It's a project that they hope will apply the open source principles that much of the web was founded upon to scientific endeavour.

The aim of the Science Lab is to foster an ongoing dialogue between the open web community and researchers to tackle this challenge. Together they'll share ideas, tools and best practices for using next-generation web solutions to solve real problems in science, and explore ways to make research faster, more agile and collaborative.

So in other words, they want to encourage the kind of open and collaborative tools that I highlighted at the start of this post.  Their initial goals are of the low hanging fruit variety.  They're teaming up with Software Carpentry to try and improve the digital skills amongst those in the science community.

It leads me to wonder if they're playing catch-up a bit on a community that is already making great use of social tools in their research.  As the saying goes, the future already exists, it's just unevenly distributed, and there are already plenty of positive deviants out there doing great things.  Hopefully Mozilla can help spread the awareness of those isolated projects, and aid the more mainstream science community in following suit.

You can keep up to date with the project via their Twitter feed - http://twitter.com/mozillascience

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