Common Knowledge

One of the hardest parts of the day job is trying to explain why the commons works for science to people. I find that I have to start by explaining what science actually is, how science works, and how that doesn’t take advantage of the possibility of the internet, which means I have to explain the possibility of the internet, and on and on. The smarter the non-scientist, ironically, the harder this can be – because the smart non-scientist frequently has a hard opinion about science and the internet. “Just get it online and everything will be fine!” is a common refrain.

Several months ago, I got a visit in our tiny fishbowl of an office from a guy named Jesse Dylan. He’s a filmmaker, most well known for the Obama yes we can video with (he’s also made a bunch of big-screen movies, and he works with a lot of people on various humanitarian campaigns). Jesse had struggled with finding scientific and health information on the web, and had been so frustrated as to start building his own software to deal with the problem.

We were supposed to talk for a few minutes. We talked for hours. At the end, he told me he wanted to help us tell our story better. Since then I’ve been fortunate to get to know him better through long conversations in odd time zones, and I’m glad to say he’s in our camp. Jesse’s going to be helping us at Science Commons in an attempt to explain and communicate science better – the first video is now up over at the Science Commons home page or at (big and hi-rez) – but it’s just the start.

I believe Science Commons represents the true aspiration of the web, and I
wanted to tell their story. They’ve changed the way we think about
exploration and discovery; the important and innovative ideas need to be
shared. I believe it’s vital to revolutionizing science in the future. I
hope this is just the beginning of our collaboration.

– Jesse Dylan, Filmmaker

We’re releasing this in conjunction with a “commoner letter” from Richard Bookman at the University of Miami. Richard’s another one of those great people I get to meet and work with at CC – a funny, smart, warm guy who is trying to bring the ideas of the commons deep into the academy. We’re hopeful that we can begin to demonstrate the power of the Science Commons approach, at scale, in the state of Florida in the coming years.

Richard and Jesse, thanks so much. I am glad you’re part of our krewe.


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    December 10, 2008

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