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Open Access

Science, Media & the Public

One central characteristic of potential science(s) 2.0 is their relation to the public. Science can only be described and practised as institutionalised and professionalised pursuit of new knowledge through the demarcation of boundaries with other activities or subsystems of society (such as politics, economy or art). By definition that makes the insiders specialists and everybody else a lay, at least regarding the latest research results in discipline XYZ. This large group of outsiders, however diverse it may be, is generally referred to as “the public”. Nowadays, members of this group gain their information on science only in some cases by first-hand experiences. Media play the role as the main two-way communicators – asking the public ‘What about science?’ and scientists ‘What about the public?’ – following their own rules (e.g. news values). Consequently, tracing the specific influences of web 2.0 on scientific communication means examining the relations that these new media are establishing between science and its public(s). A point of departure can be found in Peter Weingart’s work on the mutual penetration of science an mass media…

(Speaking about public, science & media – Einstein on air – Sollen sich auch alle schämen! 😉

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Open Access to scientific knowledge – an imperative?

Scientific knowledge is a public good. In order to be used in a optimal way for further knowledge production or application, it is argued, scientific knowledge needs to be freely accessible. Yet, the current system of scientific knowledge dissemination with peer-review journals at the centre stage exhibits significant barriers in monetary terms and regarding institutional affiliation. Web 2.0 technologies promise to ease these constraints and to get closer to the ideal of free communication in the scientific community. They support the nearly universal and quick distribution, storage and debate of research finding while further offering new possibilities for the collective generation of new knowledge. Read on…

“Urheberrecht 2.0”? – A short overview to the german debate about copyright law.

In the layer of technological change (especially new media like the Internet) and the upcoming of an new “information society”, a reformation of the German copyright law (UrhG) seems to be urgently needed. Among other things, the legislation applies to “harmonize” german law to the guidelines of the European and international law. The latest reform of the UrhG (the so-called “Third Basket”), covered for 2012, is already preceded by two earlier reforms. With regards to the European Directive 2001/29/EC form 2001, there was a first reform in 2003 (“First Basket”) and another one – the Second Act Governing Copyright in the Information Society (“Second Basket”) – in 2008, which is still valid. Read on…

Can “Science 2.0” learn from the open-source movement?

Can “Science 2.0” learn from developments of the “Web 2.0” regarding Intellectual Property rights, in particular the “open-source movement”?

The diagnosis that intellectual property rights may conflict with norms traditionally associated with science, i.e. the so-called “Mertonian norms”, isn’t new to “science 2.0”, but has already been recognized for “science 1.0”.

In short the argument goes like this: IP rights, with their possibility to exclude others from intellectual content and to license this content for money, give a financial incentive to create new knowledge. Science, in the Mertonian ideal at least, only needs reputation as an incentive. But not only do the incentives clash, but IP rights, through their exclusion effects, stand in direct opposition to some of Merton’s norms, most importantly to what he calls “communalism”. But since we don’t live in an ideal world, we have to accept – for now at least – that there is financial pressure on scientists to capitalize their research. Read on…

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