Exploring e-Science: An Introduction
A number of terms are in vogue that describe the transformation of science through utilization of Grid computing, Internet-based instrumentation, and global collaboration. For the purposes of this special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, the term e-science serves as an umbrella for these initiatives. This article introduces the contributions to the collection and includes a number of suggestions for extending the exploratory work performed to date, including attention to disciplinary and contextual diversity and the importance of longitudinal research designs and historical awareness and of the social shaping of technology as a theoretical concept to understanding the changes currently underway in the scientific enterprise.
Enhanced science, e-science, is one of many terms used to describe recent transformations in the scientific enterprise.1 The overall assertion behind this and other nomenclature is that the procedures and practices of traditional forms of science in which scholars engage during their everyday professional lives are undergoing radical change. Some commentators (e.g., Nentwich, 2003) suggest that the very essence of science is changing, particularly through employment of electronic networks and high-speed computers—two of the core components of e-science. This transformation is not limited to the natural sciences, where e-science has become, in some countries and disciplines, the modus operandi, but is also penetrating the domains of the social sciences and humanities.
The 11 articles prepared for this special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication consider features and concerns related to this transformation. Here, in this introduction to the theme section, I provide background to its development and share a personal encounter with e-science during a recent research project. This background provides the basis for clustering and introducing the contributions. In the concluding section I suggest several areas where further exploration of e-science initiatives might proceed. But first, I address the most basic of concerns: What is e-science?
Terms and Definitions
A variety of terms are in vogue to describe contemporary changes in the conduct of science. The most prevalent include: cyberscience, cyberinfrastructure, and e-science. The first of these terms, cyberscience, is advocated by Nentwich (2003), who has authored perhaps the most comprehensive overview of these developments prepared to date, concisely reflected in the subtitle of the volume: “Research in the Age of the Internet.” Nentwich’s definition of cyberscience is all-encompassing: “all scholarly and scientific research activities in the virtual space generated by the networked computers and by advanced information and communication technologies in general” (2003, p. 22). Tracing the genealogy of the term, Nentwich notes that it seems to have originated in a journal article by Wouters (1996) and has subsequently appeared in various articles and conference panels. Interestingly, the term has not been adopted beyond Nentwich’s own institutional turf, the Institute of Technology Assessment, part of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Still, his systematic investigation of how computers and electronic networks are impacting science, particularly those facets related to scholarly communication and publishing, is extensive and insightful.2
The term cyberinfrastructure is primarily rooted in initiatives based in the United States and was seriously launched as an idea and source for funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2003 in what has become known as the Atkins Report (2003), entitled “Revolutionizing Science and Engineering Through Cyberinfrastructure.” This title reflects the promotional and visionary language present throughout the document: “A new age has dawned” (p. 31), “The time is ripe” (p. 12), “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead the revolution” (p. 32). This language is coupled with a proposed annual budget in keeping with such promotional, public relations style: one billion U.S. dollars.
Basically, cyberinfrastructure refers to an infrastructure of distributed computer, information, and communication technologies. The development is seen as parallel to the infrastructures that already permeate modern societies: roads and railways for transportation, water, gas, and power networks for basic services and resources. In the words of the Atkins Report, “If infrastructure is required for an industrial economy, then … cyberinfrastructure is required for a knowledge economy” (Atkins, 2003, p. 5).
Not unsurprisingly, the first waves of cyberinfrastructure initiatives were situated in the natural and biological sciences, where large volumes of data are involved in research endeavors requiring high-speed computer processing: particle physics, astronomy, meteorology, and DNA research. These initiatives typically involved collaboration with staff at supercomputing research centers.
The Atkins Report is not, to be sure, itself a scientific document, but a manifesto. As such, it does not bother with conventional scholarly concerns such as qualification, criticism, and evidence. It can be—and has been—easily dismissed on those grounds, but Hine (2003) reminds us that such perfunctory discarding of visionary statements misses opportunity for a potentially valuable scholarly enquiry into how these statements are translated into initiatives and, possibly, how some changes in the scientific enterprise may be impacted by the ideas and funding related to such visions.
Although it is too early and not the purpose of this introductory text to examine in detail the impact of the Atkins Report, it is fair to note that the concerns expressed in the document have found institutional and disciplinary resonance. The NSF has established an Office of Cyberinfrastructure (http://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=OCI), suggesting a form of institutionalization. Various disciplines have established their own committees producing reports and initiatives to investigate ways to take advantage consciously of both the features and the funding being made available for cyberinfrastructure initiatives.3 These initiatives have not remained restricted to the natural and biological sciences, but the humanities and social sciences have also entered the arena. The American Council of Learned Societies, for example, issued a final draft report (http://www.acls.org/cyberinfrastructure/cyber.htm) on cyberinfrastructures for the humanities and social sciences in July 2006. Other efforts to integrate the social sciences are reflected in the introduction of social network analysis as a tool with which to study science communities.4 Further indicators of institutionalization include initiatives to make the general public cyberinfrastructure-minded, such as EPIC: Engaging People in Cyberinfrastructure5 and, arguably, many of the initiatives that have introduced Internet research and digital studies into university curricula and research programs.6
The term selected as identifier for this JCMC theme section, e-science, primarily has grounding in initiatives emerging from Europe, particularly the United Kingdom. John Taylor, then Director General of the Office of Science and Technology in the U.K., coined the term in 1999 at the launch of a major funding program. Like the U.S. cyberinfrastructure initiative, the focus was on the natural and biological sciences, and was designed to process very large volumes of data with the aid of Grid computing networks. Similar euphoric statements about the transformation of the scientific enterprise as those surrounding cyberinfrastructure discourse marked the launch and subsequent promotion of e-science.7 A National e-Science Centre (http://www.nesc.ac.uk/nesc/) was established in 2001, which has since become the primary vehicle for coordinating and allocating funding for e-science projects in the U.K. On the NeSC website e-science is described and prediction of the future course of science is sketched:
In the future, e-Science will refer to the large scale science that will increasingly be carried out through distributed global collaborations enabled by the Internet. Typically, a feature of such collaborative scientific enterprises is that they will require access to very large data collections, very large scale computing resources and high performance visualization back to the individual user scientists.
In this description, as in many others, e-science is closely associated with Grid computer network architecture that enables much of the global collaboration considered basic to e-science.8 These features are expected, in turn, to spur development of new, specialized Internet-based tools for conducting research.
One of the developments in the U.K. that differs from the U.S. trajectory is initiation of a government-sponsored office to stimulate and coordinate e-science in the social sciences. Called the National Centre for e-Social Science (http://www.ncess.ac.uk/) and launched in December 2004, it involves a decentralized structure of “nodes” engaging universities across the U.K. Most of the projects funded so far follow the e-science paradigm of Grid computer architecture, the one exception being the Oxford University node (http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/microsites/oess/index.cfm), which takes a social-shaping approach. Initially, 11 pilot projects received support to explore the application of Grid technologies in the social sciences (Jankowski & Caldas, 2004). Although this U.K. initiative is impressive in scope, the projects initially funded are predominantly technology oriented, particularly with regard to applications of Grid computer architecture. There are other approaches receiving funding, as noted above, but these are in the minority and mainly relegated to a small grants scheme.
Regarding e-science overall, efforts are underway to “export” the British approach to the rest of Europe.9 Some EU member states, however, have taken a different approach, as in the Netherlands where the term e-science is avoided and preference given to “e-research,” which is seen as more reflective of the work of both social scientists and scholars in the humanities.10 The article in this issue by Wouters and Beaulieu sketches this Dutch approach formally initiated in October 2006 and called the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences (VKS; http://www.virtualknowledgestudio.nl/).
Much more energy can—and, in the coming years, undoubtedly will—be expended on terminology. For the purposes of this collection, however, I am using e-science as the term embracing many of the features commonly associated with how scholarship is conducted in a network environment, utilizing Internet-based tools and involving collaboration among scholars often separated by large distances on a global scale. These features, it is claimed, contribute “added value” to the scientific enterprise when combined. In list form, these features include:
- • International collaboration among researchers;
- • Increasing use of high-speed interconnected computers, applying Grid architecture;
- • Visualization of data;
- • Development of Internet-based tools and procedures;
- • Construction of virtual organizational structures for conducting research;
- • Electronic distribution and publication of findings.
The combination of these features differs across disciplines and projects, and some scenarios of e-science are, as shown above, futuristic in tone and sense of technological inevitability.11 The articles in this collection represent one of the first rounds12 of social science reflection on this new vision of science. Not all of these features, it should be pointed out, are reflected in the articles in this issue; additional work, quite obviously, remains to be undertaken.
Background to Call
In the initial announcement for this collection I identified four areas as suitable for submissions, which reflected a clustering of the above-mentioned features:
- • Managing collaboration and communication among researchers separated by distance;
- • Developing and using Internet-based tools for data collection, analysis, and visualization of findings;
- • Archiving and providing access to data;
- • Publishing and disseminating results.
Although other topics and divisions are imaginable, these four identify the main areas of activity in e-science. In many respects, the transition between traditional scientific endeavors to e-science is underway and often transpiring without awareness or particular concern. This was the case with a research project that I helped coordinate in the period 2003-2006. Since that experience might be beneficial in understanding how features of e-science are becoming commonplace and essentially transparent, I provide a sketch of the Internet & Elections Project below.
The Internet & Elections Project (http://oase.uci.kun.nl/~jankow/elections/), conceived in 2003, was concerned with employment of websites by political actors during elections.13 The data collection for this cross-national study took place in 2004-2005 and was based upon a common theoretical framework and a shared methodological approach in order to examine how online structures for political action were developed by a variety of political actors during the two weeks preceding each election. Over 30 researchers collaborated to identify more than 5,000 websites related to elections across Asia, Europe, and North America. Building on the experience and methodological procedures and tools developed by WebArchivist (http://webarchivist.org), empirical projects were established around elections held in seven Asian countries, the U.S., and in 11 European countries participating in the 2004 European Parliament election. Here, three aspects of the research design are presented relevant to e-science: project management, data collection and analysis, and publication.
Regarding project management, funding was secured to conduct a training workshop on the principles, procedures, and tools of the project, intended for researchers studying elections in Asia and Europe. For team members unable to attend the workshop, special meetings–face-to-face and Internet-based—were organized. The Internet meetings included both synchronous chat sessions and asynchronous discussion lists. In addition, a help desk provided researchers opportunity to pose questions online via instant messaging and email during the data collection period.
Regarding data collection and analysis, in particular during identification of websites related to the election under study, guidelines developed by WebArchivist were applied, which involved consulting search engines, politically-oriented portals, and other depositories of potential website addresses. All sites produced by political actors that seemed potentially relevant to the 2004 election were identified with the help of an Internet-based tool for this purpose. With this tool, basic elements of the site were recorded and, subsequently, samples from the identified sites were drawn. Once samples had been generated for each of the web spheres in the respective elections, members of country research teams coded the sites for the presence of more than a score of features. These sites were coded online, using an Internet-based instrument developed for that purpose. Afterwards, basic tables were generated from the master database and subsections of that database were distributed to the respective country research teams for further analysis.
Finally, regarding publication, the project followed procedures common in traditional science, including preparation of conference papers, journal articles, and book chapters. In addition, members of the project prepared country reports on the elections studied that were available on a password-protected site. The manuscript of the book based on project research was completed in September 2006 (Kluver, Jankowski, Foot, & Schneider, forthcoming 2007) and is to be released as a conventional scholarly monograph.14
In this project, the degree of international collaboration achieved would have been impossible without utilization of email and discussion lists for communication among the research teams situated around the world. The tools for site identification and coding, available from a password-protected site maintained by colleagues in the U.S., provided the basis for generating data reliably and efficiently. In these respects, the project captures the promise of e-science. Still, problems were encountered on multiple occasions. To begin, technical limitations restricted Internet-based data collection: The server to which codes of site features were to be uploaded proved incapable of handling the amount of traffic generated by more than a dozen coders working at the same time during the 2004 European Parliament election. As a stopgap measure, some coders resorted to first coding the sites on paper and then later uploading the data—in effect nullifying the primary advantage of online coding by geographically distributed researchers. Regarding managing a virtual research organization, substantial additional demands were placed on the project coordinators in maintaining contact with team members stretching across Asia, Europe, and the United States. The sheer volume of email communication—supplemented by telephone calls and conferences, discussion lists, instant messaging, and chat sessions—was enormous.
One of the lessons that emerged from our experiences with e-science during this project underlined the importance of communication among team members, and that mediated forms of such communication require supplement with face-to-face contact in order to establish a basis of trust for collaboration. Although this "wisdom" may sound banal and obvious to those with experience working within or studying collaboratories, for us as novices to this feature of e-science, the realization was profound. Speaking more generally, we also came to feel that the organizational infrastructure required by e-science initiatives may be, in fact, more important than the Internet-based tools for data collection and analysis.
Overview of Articles
With this personal experience as a backdrop, I would now like to highlight the contributions selected for this thematic collection. Although these contributions, taken as a whole, cover much ground, they obviously do not address all issues related to e-science, and attention may sometimes seem out of balance. There is perhaps excessive emphasis on aspects related to distant collaboration and, at the same time, limited consideration regarding other topics such as archiving, visual representation, and data mapping techniques. These and other concerns with e-science merit attention in future collections.
The articles in the collection are organized around three central themes: conceptual concerns, researcher collaboration, and issues related to research project features. Finally, two articles relate experiences with specific projects; these are appropriately considered separately as case studies of e-science.
Three articles deal primarily with conceptually situating e-science initiatives. The first, prepared by Ralph Schroeder and Jenny Fry, presents an overview of concepts and issues, entitled “Social Science and e-Science: Mapping Disciplinary Approaches.” The authors focus on those initiatives involving high levels of computing, which is the emphasis usually placed on cyberinfrastructure and e-science conceptualizations. They also address mainly initiatives in the natural sciences, leaving the social sciences and humanities for other efforts. With these restrictions in place, Schroeder and Fry construct a typology portraying issues related to the study of e-science from social science perspectives. This typology provides a framework from which a range of areas for research are identified.
Nathan Bos and colleagues, all affiliated with the Science of Collaboratories (SOC; http://www.scienceofcollaboratories.org/) project based at the University of Michigan, construct a taxonomy of collaboratives in their article entitled “From Shared Databases to Communities of Practice.” The typology identifies seven types of collaboratories and is based on a review of more than 200 projects involving distant collaboration among researchers. Although this typology does not reflect the frequency of the different types of collaboratories presented, it does provide a theoretical overview. Examples of each type are profiled in the article, and the authors use this information to suggest a number of dimensions relevant to the types. This work is based on examination of collaboratories operating in the U.S.; one area for extension of this study, as suggested by the authors, is examination of the collaboratories situated in other regions such as the European Union.
Paul Wouters and Anne Beaulieu sketch development of an initiative designed to stimulate features of e-science in the social sciences and humanities in the Netherlands, called the Virtual Knowledge Studio. They argue for adoption of a more general and amenable term to activities undertaken in the humanities, “e-research,” and propose reducing emphasis on Grid computing as the central feature. Perhaps the authors’ main concern involves incorporation of an interventionist strategy in the initiative with, at the same time, an approach that emphasizes critical study of science innovations. Although a classic issue in the social sciences and often formulated in terms of scientific objectivity, Wouters and Beaulieu situate the concern within present-day initiatives by governments regarding e-science and, in the process, profile an alternative to the approach of other national efforts at launching e-science initiatives.
Jeremy Birnholtz and Daniel Horn explore the role of remote researchers in experiments involving large-scale and expensive equipment used for simulating earthquakes in civil engineering laboratories. In general, preference is given to “being there” at the site of these experiments, and the authors extensively document the rationales for this preference among a wide range of persons involved in these undertakings. By way of conclusion, the authors explore possible contributions that researchers-at-a-distance might make to such experiments, some of which may be applicable to experimental work in other disciplines involving off-site researchers.
John Walsh and Nancy Maloney examine the characteristics of collaboration across research teams in four disciplines: experimental biology, mathematics, physics, and sociology. A factor analysis suggests two categories of problems: those associated with coordination and those related to cultural difference and security. Further analysis identifies several issues, like size and distance, related to difficulties in coordination. Problems related to culture and security are especially present in large groups of collaborators, particularly when, among other things, competition is prominent. Walsh and Maloney suggest extending this study through longitudinal investigation, which would alleviate uncertainty about the direction of those relations found.
R. Sooryamoorthy and Wesley Shrum explore collaboration among scientists in South Africa, particularly the role email communication may have in this feature of e-science. They find a positive correlation between email use and collaboration, but not with regard to the number of resulting publications. Further, they find no evidence suggesting publishing benefits from international forms of collaboration. Although these findings are limited to members of the scholarly community within one developing country and are based on a single survey, they do suggest, within that context, that collaboration via email does not have a uniform and positive impact on productivity.
Research Project Features
Christine Hine, in an article entitled “Connective ethnography for exploration of e-science,” details how features of e-science are being introduced in the biological subdiscipline known as systematics. Through ethnographic investigation, Hine explores the procedures and practices that are taken up by members of this subdiscipline as digitalization of specimen collections emerges. The particular form of ethnography that Hine undertakes, termed connective ethnography, moves between online and offline arenas in which the biologists work. Hine suggests that this connective approach might be a useful strategy for ethnographies of other e-science initiatives, providing illustrations of change in disciplinary identities, institutional structures, and policy orientations as the move is made from traditional to e-science practices.
One of the central features of e-science involves managing large bodies of data and making them available to other researchers. Samuelle Carlson and Ben Anderson consider how complicated this seemingly basic feature is through examination of four case studies involving different forms and kinds of data. Entitled “What are data: The many kinds of data and their implications for data re-use,” the article considers a project with a large-scale survey data set, one with digitized records of hundreds of thousands of artefacts and photographs, an anthropological team study with digitized fieldnotes and other forms of documentation, and a dataset of astronomical observations compiled by a dozen academic partners. One of the issues emerging from the comparison is the differing degree in the four cases to which documenting and processing of data is considered mandatory before suitable for access by other scholars.
Dan L. Burk explores one of the crucial non-technical concerns of e-science, ownership and control, and focuses on the legal aspects of intellectual property. Drawing from Merton’s (1973) classical conceptualization of researchers as members of a scientific community, Burk reviews the components of this position in relation to e-science initiatives and aspects of open source. He concludes by voicing reservations regarding the suitability of copyleft and other licensing systems to creation of the idealized community of scholars posed by Merton and propagated by proponents of e-science.
Case Studies of e-Science
Bridgette Wessels and Max Craglia focus on one feature of e-science, application of Grid computer technology, within one of the pilot demonstrator projects for e-social science in the U.K. This project addresses the classical concern in criminology with geographical variations in crime patterns and the relation between individuals and living environments. One of the aspects that makes this project special is utilization of very large data sets to examine the resulting patterns. Achieving that aspect involved considerable in-house training, computer expertise, and unique solutions to problems encountered. Although some of the difficulties encountered may have been related to the relatively early period in the development of Grid technology, the experiences remain valuable to possibly guide the monitoring of future Grid applications in social science settings.
Finally, Frank Pappas and Fred Volk report on the development of a project involving features of e-science intended for museum educators associated with the Smithsonian Institute. This project is at a preliminary stage and, as such, concentrates on the preparatory phases for implementation of a system allowing collaboration among museum personnel separated by large distances. The overall objective of the project is to provide input for evaluation of museum services. Achievement of this objective involves preparation and training of personnel for data collection, reporting, and dissemination of findings. The authors reflect on these challenges and suggest that the experiences may be applicable to other cultural institutions concerned with accountability.
Further Investigation of e-Science
With the above sketch of the specific contributions to the theme section as backdrop, I now would like to offer a few general remarks regarding e-science. To begin, it is very much “early days” in understanding this phenomenon. The number of studies in the form of conference papers and journal articles is limited, and there are but a few book-length treatments presently available (e.g., Hine, 2006; Nentwich, 2003; Olson, Zimmerman, & Bos, forthcoming 2007). In this sense, the articles in this issue of JCMC are performing pioneering functions and inevitably reflect the exploratory character of early scholarship.
This character is complemented in each of the articles by specific suggestions for further research; these will be welcomed by colleagues concerned with exploring e-science empirically. There is not, however, an overall research agenda in the articles or in this introduction to the collection; it may not even be possible to formulate such for a development as diverse and disciplinary distinct as reflected within e-science.15 Still, I would like to suggest a number of general aspects, conceptual and methodological, that merit consideration during further exploration of the development of e-science.
To begin, contextual and disciplinary differences are considerable, and it is important to address these in further work. For scholars versed in the diffusion of innovations, it may sound as a base truism to note that adoption of innovations is not usually uniform across cultures and locales, and that the intended uses and impacts can be radically different from what is expected by the developers of the innovations.16 So it may well become with the take-up of the features of e-science as they are adopted—and modified—by scholars far removed from the first wave of applications. If nothing else, further investigation is essential around this take-up and modification of e-science features across all fields of scholarship: the natural and life sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.
Implicit in the above recommendation is the need for longitudinal investigation; the rate of take-up will undoubtedly differ from situation to situation, and understanding the context and factors contributing to adoption is important. Awareness of the temporal dimension should, however, extend beyond conventional longitudinal research designs and include historical contextualization of the adoption process. This aspect is well illustrated in Hine’s examination in this collection as to how the biological discipline of systematics, with a history and reputation of conservatism, is approaching digitalization of collections of specimens.
Equally implicit in the previous remarks is the need for awareness that adoption of an innovation, in this case features of e-science, involves an “active audience,” as formulated in communication studies (e.g., Clarke, 2000) and more generally known as social shaping of technology (e.g., Williams & Edge, 1996). Debate surrounding the tension and relation of this last notion with technological determinism (Smith & Marx, 2001) is a Pandora’s box that best remains shut in these final paragraphs. Suffice it to say that a critical and agnostic stance is recommended when exploring the causal relation between a technological set of innovations, such as those reflected in e-science, and the context in which they emerge, such as a particular scholarly discipline.
As a final remark, the importance of national political and economic objectives in the development of e-science is difficult to overemphasize. Generally, e-science initiatives have been payrolled by government agencies, largely to assure competitive advantage in scientific developments. These incentives create tension, if not conflict, with some of the e-science features stressing international collaboration among scholars. How this tension between e-science as an instrument for national economic strategy and e-science as the conduit for global scholarly collaboration plays out is a theme of much importance.
I wish to thank JCMC editor Susan Herring for her encouragement and advice at various stages in the development of this special theme section. A large number of the contributions were presented at a one-day pre-conference workshop held during the Second International Conference on e-Social Science in Manchester, England, in June 2006; this face-to-face encounter provided valuable opportunity for discussion of the manuscripts. Ralph Schroeder and I organized this workshop, and both of us are grateful for the collegial and critical spirit present at the event. More than a score of reviewers contributed assessments of manuscript drafts, anonymously and with no more reward or remuneration than a “thank you” from the guest editor. Although much more is merited, another expression of appreciation is appropriate here. Finally, this introductory text was presented to members of the Virtual Knowledge Studio in Amsterdam at an in-house seminar. The ensuing discussion provided inspiration for what I hope is an improved version; my thanks to these co-located colleagues.
The term “e-science” sometimes refers to “electronic science,” but the variant “enhanced science” more specifically relates to “Internet-enhanced” or “cyberinfrastructure-enhanced” science. The genealogy of these and other terms was sketched in a keynote address (http://www.nees.org/About_NEES/Announcements/presentations/NEESWorldForum/Keynote-Intro/Atkins/NEES3-17-06.pdf) by Daniel Atkins, held at the Network for Earthquake Simulation (NEES) World Forum in March 2006.
A review has been prepared by Wilson (2004).
One of these initiatives is called CTWatch, Cyberinfrastructure Technology Watch (http://www.ctwatch.org/), and strives to engage the science and engineering research community in the news, ideas, and information surrounding the emergence of cyberinfrastructure as the essential foundation for advanced scientific inquiry. Another initiative goes by the handle CI Outreach (http://www.ci-outreach.org/), Empowering People to use Cyberinstrastructure Resources, and is concerned with soliciting and supporting the education, training, and outreach needs of the scientific research projects within the cyberinfrastructure community, targeting underrepresented groups such as women, minorities and the disabled.
See description of workshop Social Networks and Cyberinfrastructure (SNAC; http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Conferences/SNAC/).
See the EPIC site (http://www.eotepic.org/), where the goal is described as “creating awareness of the opportunities afforded through cyberinfrastruture (CI) and by educating and training a diverse group of people in all stages of life from K-12 to professional practice to fully participate in the CI community as developers, users, and leaders.”
For an overview of the Internet and academia, see Price and Nissembaum (2003), in particular the chapter on communication studies and the Internet (Jankowski, et al., 2003). A recent indicator of similar intent was announced by MIT and the University of Southhampton in November 2006 to establish the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI; http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2006/wsri.html).
On the NeSC website some of these statements may still be found. A quote from Taylor on the page where e-science is defined (http://www.nesc.ac.uk/nesc/define.html) illustrates such visionary style: “e-Science will change the dynamic of the way science is undertaken.”
A vast literature on Grid computer architecture is emerging, but the basic metaphorical description of the Grid relates the development to other already-in-place systems of services, like the grid providing electricity for households. Foster (2003) and Buyya and Venugopal (2005) provide accessible introductions, as does the Wikipedia entry for Grid computing.
This endeavor is evident in establishment of an “e-Science Envoy” who also is director of the U.K. e-Science Institute. A recent presentation by this envoy, entitled “e-Science: Foundations for the European Citizen,” was delivered in Barcelona in September 2006 (http://www.nesc.ac.uk/presentations/).
Humanists are not adverse to some of the features associated with e-science; on the contrary, much work has been undertaken, particularly related to digital archiving and visualization of collections, and associations have been established; see, for example, the overview provided on the website for the Society for Digital Humanities (http://www.sdh-semi.org/index.php).
The call for contributions to the First International Conference on e-Social Science (http://www.ncess.ac.uk/events/conference/2005/) held in June 2005, illustrates the optimistic stance towards e-science: “Beyond enhancing existing research methods, however, e-Social Science also brings with it the prospect of articulating a radically new research agenda and encouraging the formation of new forms of research community.”
Another “first round” of contributions to this literature is reflected in the anthology prepared by Hine (2006). Many of the papers prepared for the NCeSS conferences also merit inclusion in any list of such critical reflections. And, the Science of Collaboratories project at the University of Michigan has a book scheduled for publication in 2007 (Olson, Zimmerman, & Bos, forthcoming 2007).
Further information on the Internet & Elections Project is available at an early site of the initiative (http://oase.uci.kun.nl/%7Ejankow/elections/).
At a presentation about the Internet & Elections Project, held in November 2006 at the launch of the Virtual Knowledge Studio, one of the participants in the subsequent discussion asked why such a traditional mode of publication was chosen for a project otherwise reflecting innovative e-science features. My response, somewhat flippant, was that many of the contributors were up for tenure and needed publications on their CVs reflective of quality scholarship published in a traditional fashion. Such institutional pressure can, in fact, be considered the primary deterrent to web-based innovations in scholarly publication, at least in the social sciences.
Woolgar (n.d.) and Woolgar and Coopmans (2006) have prepared a series of questions relevant to examination of the uptake of e-social science, a smaller slice of e-science. Although valuable, these initiatives do not constitute a systematic agenda for enquiry.
Although it goes beyond the scope of this text to elaborate on this point, several extended bibliographies on the diffusion of innovations are available, including one prepared by the NASA Headquarters Library (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/ppm/ppm39.htm).
About the Author
Nicholas W. Jankowski is Visiting Fellow at the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences. He has served as Visiting Fellow at Oxford Internet Institute and as Associate Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen. Jankowski has been involved in the investigation of new media since the 1970s and recently co-edited The Internet and National Elections: A Comparative Study of Web Campaigning (with R. Kluver, K. Foot, and S. Schneider). Jankowski is co-editor of New Media & Society.Address: Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands