In Reinventing Discovery, Michael Nielsen argues that we are living at the dawn of the most dramatic change in science in more than 300 years. This change is being driven by powerful new cognitive tools, enabled by the internet, which are greatly accelerating scientific discovery. There are many books about how the internet is changing business or the workplace or government. But this is the first book about something much more fundamental: how the internet is transforming the nature of our collective intelligence and how we understand the world.
Reinventing Discovery tells the exciting story of an unprecedented new era of networked science. We learn, for example, how mathematicians in the Polymath Project are spontaneously coming together to collaborate online, tackling and rapidly demolishing previously unsolved problems. We learn how 250,000 amateur astronomers are working together in a project called Galaxy Zoo to understand the large-scale structure of the Universe, and how they are making astonishing discoveries, including an entirely new kind of galaxy. These efforts are just a small part of the larger story told in this book--the story of how scientists are using the internet to dramatically expand our problem-solving ability and increase our combined brainpower.
This is a book for anyone who wants to understand how the online world is revolutionizing scientific discovery today--and why the revolution is just beginning.
"[A] thought-provoking call to arms. . . . Reinventing Discovery will frame serious discussion and inspire wild, disruptive ideas for the next decade."--Chris Lintott, Nature
"[Nielsen's] easy-to-read and enthusiastic narrative integrates a set of ideas that could, indeed, revolutionize knowledge creation. Nielsen offers a set of fascinating examples to illustrate how rapidly emerging methods for innovation produce important discoveries. He goes further to suggest that these will change our concepts of how science gets done and what it means to be a scientist. However, there are substantial systemic and cultural barriers to fully realizing these new forms of cognition and collaboration. . . . With Reinventing Discovery, Nielsen provides an important foundation for moving forward."--Stephen M. Fiore, Science
"The lone white-coated scientist working late, eye pressed to the eyepiece? That trope is no more. Nowadays impressive science (in mathematics, genetics, astronomy) is being accomplished by crowds using the tools of the Internet. Nielsen believes that mass collaboration is the future of science, and his book may be the most interesting piece of nonfiction I read this year."--Anthony Doerr, Boston Globe
"In Reinventing Discovery [Nielsen] has provided the most compelling manifesto yet for the transformative power of networked science."--James Wilsdon, Financial Times
"In writing this book, Nielsen has created perhaps the most compelling and comprehensive case so far for a new approach to science in the Internet age . . . eloquent, thought-provoking and inspiring to read."--Timo Hannay, Nature Physics
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1:Reinventing Discovery 1
PART 1: AMPLIFYING COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE 13
Chapter 2: Online Tools Make Us Smarter 15
Chapter 3: Restructuring Expert Attention 22
Chapter 4: Patterns of Online Collaboration 44
Chapter 5: The Limits and the Potential of Collective Intelligence 69
PART 2: NETWORKED SCIENCE 89
Chapter 6: All the World’s Knowledge 91
Chapter 7: Democratizing Science 129
Chapter 8: The Challenge of Doing Science in the Open 172
Chapter 9: The Open Science Imperative 187
Appendix: The Problem Solved by the Polymath Project 209
Selected Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading 217