Science 4.0 is a movement resulting from the formation and use of the World Wide Web. Scientists are using the World Wide Web to collaborate and do science in new ways with significant implications. The term Science 4.0 is a special case of the World Wide Web and is influenced by Web 2.0. Therefore it is helpful to understand what the Web 2.0 is in order to better understand Science 4.0. The term Web 2.0 was first used at the O’Reilly Media conference and implies a development in the use of the Web. This has been covered in an earlier article in the series (see Appendix). The Web 2.0 had several characteristics according to this definition and one of these is the end of the software cycle. In the original definition this was characterised by
1. A move towards continuous improvement rather than intermittent software releases. Google is given as an example. For instance with the Google search engine new pages are continuously indexed by web crawlers.
2. The involvement of the user community to improve the software’s usability.
Science 2.0 is distinct from the generic application of the Web 2.0 definition regarding the software cycle.
1. Firstly with reference to software, this must fit in with the process of science whether this be the acquisition of data or the analysis of results. This contrasts with the Web 2.0 definition which is much broader in remit
2. Web 2.0 software developments have been led by successful commercial organisations with lots of resources, Google being an obvious example. For Science 4.0 initiatives to be successful they would need
a. Commercial success to acquire the resources or obtain those resources from elsewhere – government or NGO’s.
b. To have more limited resources and more limited expectations
c. To circumvent the resources issues by using technical solutions which involve strategies such as automated development
Nevertheless both improvement and user development are characteristics of the Open Source software movement. Examples in medicine include OpenMRS (see Appendix) – an open source medical database and Docear – open-source reference management software. These examples of Science 4.0 still need resources for hosting but the communities are able to rely on the Web 2.0 architecture supplied by successful companies. For example, the Docear community is able to access this introductory video via YouTube
The communities are further supported by more generic Web 2.0 applications such as Twitter, Google+ and WordPress blogs. There are lessons to be learnt from the success of leading Web 2.0 exponents and such lessons can usefully be applied to develop Science 4.0.
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