In this series, I am looking at Science 4.0 because it is directly relevant to Psychiatry 2.0. Science 4.0 is a cultural movement that is defined by social values (e.g transparency, collaboration) and is both enhanced and constrained by the technical features of the software, hardware and communication protocols of the network. In some senses, the technology is a barrier to achieving the goals of the culture. As an example, collaboration is limited by the bandwidth of connections, the features of the software as well as the accessibility of the hardware. In other senses, the technology enables new means of communication which result directly from the technology. The internet is the obvious example of a technological development which by virtue of its existence has facilitated collaboration in fundamentally new ways. Thus there is a close relationship between the technology and the culture. This relationship is complex. Both the technology and the values can be drivers for the culture, influencing each other in subtle ways. In an earlier post (see Appendix ), I looked at the meaning of Web 2.0. This was defined at the O’Reilly Media Conference. The authors had looked at how the Web was being used, deriving and summarising several principles. Amongst these was the use of the Web as a platform.
So what does this mean? I offer here my own interpretation.
The reader will no doubt be familiar with the traditional software package which is purchased off-the-shelf and installed on the computer. A person may own their machine and the license for the software they own and install on it. The software and computer are their ‘possessions’ and they have a ‘space’ in which to operate. In contrast, with the web a person has access to a vast network of computers. They can do the same things in different ways. With the web as a platform they can
– Direct many distributed computers towards the same task (e.g SETI).
– Access more powerful computers than their own to run the programs (e.g Google search)
– Choose from a wide array of software programs to run on computers on the web (e.g Google applications)
– Contribute to web-based communities hosted on web servers (e.g Wikipedia)
– Combine the data from different computer-software pairings (e.g see Programmable Web site)
Having the web as a platform is a move away from a personal space and personal ‘possession’ to a global technological community that creates in a shared space. There are drivers for this. While commerce is a strong driver in any environment, the possibilities that are opened up mean that many types of community come together to work towards their goals. These goals are defined by shared values and in the context of Web 2.0 offer a structure to the collaboration of the community members.
The web as a platform is not a cliche but a perspective that is best understood through reflection.
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