Science 2.0: Risky business?

April ’08 issue of Scientific American

As a journalist, I love wikis just as much as the next person when I’m looking for a starting point for information. But you have to take the information with a (sometimes giant) grain of salt. If anyone can edit the content of the article, who’s to say any of it is true? I usually skip right to the recommended resources and check out the sites that the article’s information is based on. I do appreciate the sites that are listed because they are sometimes full of insight.

As a journalist, I sometimes get upset at the thought that “anyone can be a journalist” ; if I had to go to school for it, why shouldn’t everyone else?

Now they are coming out with scientific wikis and blogs in which anyone can have their say — anyone can be a citizen journalist — but are they bound by any standards?

Scientific American offers an experiment in “networked journalism”in which anyone can collaborate with the author to give a particular article more life, more zest, perhaps more meat to chew on.

I think it would be a great idea if there were articles to which registered doctors could add their input and upon which they could collaborate together. However, it seems like everything is turning into an opinion-based blog (yes, I realize that’s exactly what this is as well). How are we to be sure of our facts when well-meaning consumers can muddy around with the experts’ data? And why would scientists offer up their knowledge at the risk of it being stolen? Or is opening this up to the public going to open us up to a more collaborative, well-rounded knowledge?

Check it out for yourself.

Read more about the Science 2.0 project at Scientific American: “Science 2.0: Great New Tool, or Great Risk?”